Former NFL Safety Carpenter: Every Kid Has A Right to an Education…Why Not Get it For Free by Using Football?”

June 29, 2010 | Ryan Chell

Aaron Maybin
The year after the Super Bowl, current Buffalo Bills linebacker Aaron Maybin was a young kid in the Baltimore area looking for guidance.

He went to the Ravens annual training camp in 2001, and he was met there by a young and coming linebacker from the Ravens, Ed Hartwell, who had just been drafted by the Ravens in April’s draft.

He spent two hours talking with Hartwell, and he said that he learned so much from Hartwell and a ton of guidance came his way that he never forgot the moment and remembers it vividly to this day.

“Honestly speaking, he was one of those guys who when you met him he was so down to earth and humble, he was so willing to give his time and energy,” Maybin told Rex Snider on Monday’s show on WNST. ”

For a kid that was my age to have somebody willing to spend time with me, it really meant a lot. He probably doesn’t remember those two days, but to me I never forgot those two days…it was experiences like that that kept me on the straight and narrow path.”

Now Maybin and another former Maryland-area NFL player, former Falcons safety Keion Carpenter, are giving back and reciprocating that same advice that an professional football player gave to an up and coming kid.

Maybin, who played his college ball at Penn State and was selected by the Bills in last year’s NFL Draft, and Carpenter, who spent seven years in the NFL between the Bills and the Falcons, are hosting a summer camp for young boys for the second straight year. The camp will  not only teach kids the lessons of football, but to educate the young men and boys about the benefits of a college education, how to handle themselves on and off the field, and how to deal with issues that may lead a young man off the straight and narrow path.

“For us to have the opportunity to do that for the kids we’re working with now, we have a chance to impact lives,” Maybin said.

The camp is called the Commitment 4 Change Summer Football Camp, which is scheduled from July 5th to the 10th at Woodlawn High School, where Carpenter spent his prep days. Kids from ages of 7-17 are welcome to attend, and the cost is 250.00 dollars for the whole week.

Carpenter, whose foundation “The Carpenter House” is helping to sponsor the event, said that this camp is a great opportunity for a young kid wanting football to pay off for them both financially and personally, but especially when it comes to education.

“We’re trying to plant the seed , get you on the right track, so you can put yourself  in position to succeed in life,” Carpenter also told Snider on Monday. ” Not everyone is going to make it to the NFL, but every kid has a right to get an education, and why not get it for free by using football instead of football using you?”

Keion Carpenter

And that’s really what the camp is all about. While it has a football theme to it, Carpenter does want to emphasize that he wants the kids leaving on July 10th with more information about how to get to college and how to handle peer pressure instead of how to wrap up on a tackle.

Instead it’s all about teaching life lessons from guys who have been down that road before and know to how to fight those problems that come their way, or those who went down the wrong path and want to help others not make the same mistakes.

“There’s nothing better than getting on the job training in your field from people who have traveled the same path that you’re about to travel, “Carpenter told Snider.

“We can teach you the basic principles that will help you be successful in anything you try to do. The camp is more focused on those things, doing things the right way, being respectful, going to class…then football gets easy.”

One of the reasons why Carpenter said the camp is more weighted on the life lessons than the football is that Carpenter said that today’s generation of kids are “bigger, stronger, and faster”, and that they feel like it is their duty to provide guidance to make these kids more complete athletes physically and mentally so they do have a greater chance of making it to college and maybe living a dream as an NFL player.

“The beautiful thing Aaron and I are focusing on is the off the field things. The athletes are getting bigger,faster and stronger, but that’s not the thing holding them back from getting scholarships to college. We’re really focusing on putting the student back in front of the athlete.  We know that the kids in Baltimore and the state of Maryland are dealing with a lot of tough issues., and we’re really focusing with those issues. We can teach them what we know on the field, cause we’ve made it to the highest level.”

Carpenter and Maybin are also bringing in a bunch of current and ex-NFL players to also give their guidance to these young kids. One player in particular, Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick, who has had a much publicized fall from grace due to a dogfighting scandal, time in prison, suspension from the NFL to eventually winning the Ed Block Courage Award, is the type of guy that really can impart some knowlege to some kids looking for both football and life lessons.

Maybin in particular was quick to point out that Vick is a great example of learning a big lesson that they are going to emphasize at the camp: knowing who to hang out with and having positive influences around you to keep you on the straight and narrow path.

“You’ve got to have people around you that are going to open up your eyes to the things you can’t see,” Maybin said, “cause you can’t screen everything.

“I cant see every situation that I’m going to be in…but one thing I can do is have positive people around me that are going to keep eyes open and actually care about me that when they see a red flag, they say ‘Hey Aaron, that might not be the way to go’.”

And one of Maybin’s mentors, that former Raven in Hartwell, is also partnering with Maybin and Carpenter to help sponsor and get this event going as best he can.

“It’s going to be fun,” Hartwell said, who spent four years in Baltimore playing behind and next to Ray Lewis from 2001-2004.  “Not only coming down to help kids, but Baltimore is my old stomping grounds. I’m excited to get back in the community doing some things with Keion Carpenter and the rest of the fellas.”

But while this camp is much like a school or classroom session, Carpenter did want to emphasize that the kids are going to have fun, be able to get autographs from dozens of current and past NFL greats, and learn from a excellent staff of high school football coaches.

Carpenter actually had this camp at Towson last year, and next year it will be returning to a college setting next year as Stevenson University will host the third year of the camp. Carpenter would prefer to keep the camp on a college setting as best he can for the ability to show the kids what a college setting is like, and how appealing it can be.

“I’m trying to show you how to get that point,” said Carpenter. “We’re just going to keep exposing these kids to different things to plant that seed at a young age so they get on the fast track toward going to college.”

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