Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman is the face of the franchise, and he wants to take on a bigger role in the community. That's why Freeman will host his inaugural youth football camp at the Interbay-Glover YMCA in Tampa. We caught up with him to chat about what inspired him to spend time on the practice field with Tampa Bay's youths.
Why did you choose to host a football camp in Tampa this summer?
Obviously, the first reason is that it's a way to get involved with the community. I guess being fairly new to Tampa, I'd like to learn about some of these kids, learn about the high schools and the high school rivalries. What better way to know the kids than to put on a football camp.
It's a way to give back to the community. The people at the YMCA were gracious enough to let us use their fields, and we'll do one day here at One Buc Place. The proceeds are going to go to the YMCA for whatever they need to use them for, to upgrade facilities or whatever.
It's a way to give back to the community. This is the first (camp), but I hope every summer I can have a Josh Freeman camp and try to get more and more people involved. I think it could turn into something really special.
Were there camps that you benefited from growing up?
No doubt. I went to as many camps as I could find growing up, and they helped me a lot.
Because I never really played quarterback growing up until I got to high school — I was a running back — I went to a quarterback, wide receiver and running back camp. And I was kind of doing it all and throwing it around in Kansas. It was (coach) Kelly Donahue's camp at Blue Spring High School.
I remember throwing it around, and (Donahue) was like, "Man, you're just a freshman. You can compete with our varsity guys." Hearing that gave me a lot of confidence as a quarterback. So I decided when I got to high school I would focus solely at quarterback.
Will you have Bucs teammates or coaches at the camp?
I know we are going to have a couple players. … My dad and my manager have put together a staff of 25 or 30 coaches. But there's definitely going to be a lot of college coaches and a few ex-pro players and pro coaches.
Is the camp for all positions?
It's all positions; whatever you want to do. And if you're not quite sure what you want to play, come out and get a feel for everything and see how you stack up against other kids your age. It's going to be a good time.
Do you still enjoying watching high school football?
It's Friday night lights. Everybody comes from that, and it's something everybody can relate to. It's always fun. High school was some of the most fun I had playing football. I remember (last year) we would go watch Tampa Catholic … playoff games and had a great time. (D.J. Williams, son of ex-Buc Doug Williams, played on the team.) Yeah, there's nothing like the atmosphere of high school football.
You don't mind being approached in the community as the face of the franchise?
You have to understand that's a part of it, being the quarterback and having your face recognized. You have to understand that people are interested in talking to you and seeing you. There's obviously some times you would like your privacy, like if you're out on a date or something. But I remember exactly what it was like being a huge fan growing up, and if I had seen one of my favorite players, I would've wanted to talk to him.
Rick Stroud can be reached at email@example.com