BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — A youth sports camp in Brookings is gearing up for its third year with college and professional athletes leading the charge.
The “Cash Money Youth Skills Camp” draws in kids of all ages for a fun-filled day of sports drills and competition.
It’s an idea 25-year-old Noah Clair had just a few years ago.
“We’ll have a couple SDSU guys and we’ll be at like 20 kids to come. It’ll be a way to give back to those kids. And that first year, we had like 300 kids and a ton of SDSU guys, an NFL DB and a bunch of different people. And then last year it grew double that,” Clair said.
While there are a lot of kids locally, some travel a long way to attend.
“We had kids come from Ohio last year. We had kids come from all across the Midwest,” Clair said.
The free one-day camp is based on faith and sports.
“Sports are a great barrier that breaks down every kind of difference and can unite people,” Clair said.
Clair was unsure if he was going to host the camp this year, but then he talked it over with Baylor’s head basketball coach, Scott Drew.
“The advice he gave me was simple. If God leads you to something, he’ll let you know when it’s time to be done, but it isn’t time to be done yet,” Clair said.
9-year-old Kaden Ziegeldorf is looking forward to being back on the field again this summer with friends.
“We got to practice catching and tackle the bags and all that stuff. It was a really good experience to see some cool coaches there,” he said.
Including recently-retired SDSU head football coach John Stiegelmeier, who is busy traveling now, but plans to be back for this year’s camp.
“A free youth sports camp for anybody and it’s grown, so you know there’s interest in it. And it didn’t need to be free, but I think sports are huge in a person’s life, and then there’s the spiritual aspect that is important to me and most important thing to me and my family, and so to combine those two things is pretty special,” Stig said.
Stig says it’s mind boggling how much the camp has grown, but says Clair and the staff do a great job managing it all.
“One person or 600 people, a great opportunity to impact kids,” he said.
Some of Stig’s former Jackrabbits, as well as collegiate athletes from all over South Dakota take part, but that’s not all.
Some professional athletes have been there since the beginning, including NFL defensive back and free agent Pierre Desir, who last played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He says the camp fits within his platform to help others.
“Whether that’s giving my time or just being able to donate money or whatever it may be, and because of Cash’s camp, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give back,” Desir said.
Desir, who currently lives in St. Louis, says coming to South Dakota to work with the kids is awesome and he hopes a lot of them attend this year.
“They have a lot of energy. They come in there and they want to show you their moves. I get to talk to them about what they want to do when they grow up. You see a lot of kids be able to show who they are, their character shows. And it’s just a fun filled day and I enjoy it,” Desir said.
Clair stresses how it is a camp for all kids.
“We want to make sure that every kid feels comfortable,” he said. “This can be kind of intimidating for some kids. There’s a lot of kids here and it can be kind of nerve-racking. ‘What if I’m not good enough?’ is a common question I’ve gotten. It doesn’t matter if you can run. If you have the heart to want to have fun, then we’re your camp.”
While it may be a lot of work to host the fun-filled day of sports, Clair says it’s worth it.
“It’s been a dream that I can never have dreamed of and that it would ever get to this way and I’m really really thankful,” he said.
The camp is June 24 and registration is open now.