GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Forest Hills Youth League held a Celebration of Football youth camp on Saturday morning at Forest Hills Northern High School.
The drills were all led by players from all three football programs—Forest Hills Central, Northern, and Eastern with the varsity coaches overseeing the event.
Former NFL player and ESPN Analyst Merril Hoge was one of the notable keynote speakers along with Karen Sadler of the Sadler Foundation and former Michigan State linebacker Darien Harris.
The day wasn't just about football but more so the education about safety in the sport as well as community.
In fact, Hoge was on hand to address the safety and education of the sport specifically after his NFL career was cut short due to concussions and how they were treated.
"You have parents and community leaders wanting to educate and empower their community in all sports, so when you have that platform, I really try to make the effort of being here," Hoge said.
"It's important to help them understand the full scope of things versus what they may have heard; I'm not here to change their mind but open their mind to all the real facts that are in sports today," he added.
While the rivalries between the Forest Hills programs can get intense, the head coaches were all ecstatic to have the players together for a great cause.
Players from Forest Hills Central, Northern & Eastern are coaching the drills here at the youth football camp while the coaches look on. Pretty awesome to see the players giving back & much such a big impact on the kids. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 pic.twitter.com/chFiZfTC6P— Zach Harig (@FOX17Zach) May 22, 2021
"There are big rivalries there but also a lot of respect there among the schools and programs," said Forest Hills Northern head coach Eddie Ostipow. "It's nice these kids all know each other; they play against each other in a lot of sports. It's great to see them working together for all these young kids getting a chance to enjoy the game here today."
Forest Hills Central junior Jack McNamara was one of the players on hand to help the youth out.
"For us, we're just trying to inspire these kids to keep playing football, the sport we have fallen in love with," McNamara said. "Being a little kid I always remember looking up to the older guys, and now it's our turn to do that for them."