On Saturday, four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcomed 350 Tampa-area children to One Buccaneer Place for the Gerald McCoy Youth Football Clinic.
The one-day football camp offered football instruction to local children, ages seven to 14, with an emphasis on fundamentals, teamwork and discipline. A large number of children in attendance come from single-parent households through the United Way Suncoast and were hosted free of charge by Gerald McCoy.
"Single parent families; it's close to my heart because my mother was a single parent, my wife, before we got married, was a single parent," said McCoy. "I have seen the struggles of single parents, so that is really near and dear to my heart. I had the opportunity to bring out a number of these families on my dime because I didn't want any kids to miss out on an opportunity because of finances."
Some of McCoy's teammates dedicated their Saturday offseason morning, joining McCoy and the future football stars on the field. Quarterback Jameis Winston, linebacker Lavonte David, wide receiver Vincent Jackson, rookie cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, offensive tackle Donovan Smith and defensive end George Johnson were all out leading position drills on the practice fields behind One Buc.
"It shows what type of man he really is, it shows what his heart really is and I would do anything to help him out," said Jameis Winston, taking a break from teaching passing techniques. "Gerald has done a lot of great things in the community, he's done a lot of great things for the Bucs and he's also been a great player for us as well. So he's an all around great person and it shows out here today."
McCoy, who is committed to supporting single-parent families, is bringing the camp to Tampa for the first time ever after previously hosting the event in his hometown of Oklahoma City. It was a special day for all the kids in attendance and is sure to leave a lasting impression on them and their families.
"Our school is a diverse demographic and we've got a lot of parents that are single parents," said J.B. Bailey, Program Director for Boys & Girls Club at Webb Middle School. "Just to be able to get out on a Saturday to do something with professional athletes that harps on academics and sports is just an incredible opportunity."
While bonding with teammates and teaching football fundamentals are always a goal at player's camps, there was another message that McCoy wanted to share with the kids at One Buc. Most important for McCoy was the chance to go out and set a strong example for those children who can learn from his own life lessons.
"I just want them to see that there is an opportunity. I want them to see that, 'Well, look at what Gerald's doing,' and they hear my story and hear what I come from," McCoy added. "Just know that there always is a way out. All you've got to do is take advantage of all your opportunities and make the most of them."