Mentors Make a Difference

Sacramento Region, CA  |  Story and photos by Shaunna Boyd
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Retired Oakland Raider and NFL Hall of Fame player Tim Brown sponsored the Tim Brown 9-1-1 Playmakers Camp. Photo by Roger Riggsby.
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A player jumps into the air to catch a long pass. Photo by Shaunna Boyd

Playmakers Football Camp Serves At-Risk Youth

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - On April 19, more than 100 young men participated in the Tim Brown 9-1-1 Playmakers Camp, sponsored by retired Oakland Raider and NFL Hall of Fame player Tim Brown and the 9-1-1 for Kids Foundation. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) hosts the annual event at their training academy in West Sacramento, and CHP officers serve as some of the mentors to the youth as they interact through football training drills.


Tim Brown explained to the participating kids that football was just a disguise for what they were really teaching at this camp. Brown said, “I want you to walk away with some sense of hope. Whatever your situation is right now, it can change.”


Brown explained that his father was not involved in his life for many years while he was growing up, and that caused him a lot of pain. “If not for the teachers, coaches, and mentors who were around me at that time, especially when I was in high school … I don’t know what would have happened to me.”
“You have people here who care about you,” said Brown. “I think that’s something that’s very important. Because sometimes in this world we can think, ‘Oh, no one cares about me’… But people do care.”


The Playmakers Organization, founded by Greg “Coach Roz” Roeszler, is a local non-profit that coaches character through leadership. Working together with Tim Brown, the 9-1-1 Playmakers Camp provides an opportunity for mentors to encourage and support at-risk kids.


“What we’re doing here today with Tim Brown is a Playmakers activity fun day for at-risk and special needs kids — just providing for them a great day that’s all based around character and doing the right thing and serving others in the community,” said Coach Roz. “It’s just a wonderful day of character and football.”


Coach Shannon Sauers coached with Coach Roz right out of college and, years later, he is still incorporating what he learned from Coach Roz in his own coaching: “He was the first one who taught me that character was the most important aspect of coaching. He taught me that it’s really about developing young men.”


Lorenzo Walsh, one of the Playmakers mentors, has 15 years of coaching experience, and he strives to get underprivileged kids fed, educated, and involved in youth football. Walsh said he knows all too well how difficult it is to grow up without the support and encouragement of a male role model, so he wants to provide that support to as many kids as possible.


Walsh said that bringing kids to participate in Playmakers is a way to “expose these kids to experiences and people they’d never have otherwise. I want to let them know that big dreams can be achievable.”


Football players from Rio Americano and El Camino — high school teams whose bitter rivalry ended last season with a brawl — served together at the camp as coach’s helpers, supporting the kids through the sports drills while teaching about character development.


When asked how his players were feeling about working with the rival team, El Camino Head Coach JP Dolliver said, “At the end of the day… they’re just kids playing football.… They shook hands. And this year’s going to be a different experience because of it.”


“I think it’s just a great experience for the kids to give back to the younger kids.… It shows the importance of the leadership aspect of being a student athlete,” said Dolliver. “It’s good to bring them out here, and I think it’s going to make them better football players themselves.”

Retired Oakland Raider and NFL Hall of Fame player Tim Brown sponsored the Tim Brown 9-1-1 Playmakers Camp. Photo by Roger Riggsby.A player jumps into the air to catch a long pass. Photo by Shaunna BoydThe hurdles drill tests participants’ speed and agility.  Photo by Shaunna BoydParticipants practice their hitting techniques while breaking through the dummy bags. Photo by Shaunna BoydParticipants warm up with exercises in the gym before hitting the field. Photo by Shaunna Boyd