Sheriff's Auxiliary Football Camp

Elbert Shelley (left) and Sheriff Mitch Ralston talk to the kids during the Sheriff’s Auxiliary Football Clinic in 2014. The clinic is now going into its seventh year. (Contributed Photo)

Football season is right around the corner, and local youth will get a chance to learn a few tips and tricks of the game next week.

Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston and the Sheriff’s Auxiliary will host its annual football clinic on Saturday, July 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The clinic, which will be held at the Calhoun Recreation Department football field on McDaniel Station Road, is open to kids ages 6-12, and the cost is $30 per participant.

Ralston said he was excited to once again have the opportunity to give back to the local kids through this clinic

“This will be our seventh clinic, and we’ve always had a good response,” said Ralston. “It’s a unique opportunity especially having professional players there. For some kids, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet a pro player. And we’re also fortunate to have several former players from around here that help out as well.

“This gives us an opportunity to talk to the kids and hopefully lead them in the right direction, but we also get to teach them some football techniques and show them how to play the game safely.”

Each participant will receive instruction on the fundamentals of the game that will be aimed toward improving their skills. They will also get a free t-shirt and other prizes and gifts will be given out.

“We’ll mainly go over fundamentals and teach them some agilities,” said Ralston. “Their will be different stations for them to go through to learn different things, and we’ll also have some time dedicated to motivating and encouraging them. We want to show them that hard work pays off.”

Members of the Sheriff’s Auxiliary will serve as instructors, and they will be joined by several special guests. Among those scheduled to attend are current NFL player and Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Chris Lewis-Harris, former NFL All-Pro with the Atlanta Falcons and current Gordon County Sheriff’s Deputy Elbert Shelley, former Calhoun High and Hampden-Sydney quarterback Nash Nance, former Calhoun High and Savannah State defensive back DeShawn Printup and former Calhoun High and Universiy of Central Florida linebacker Cody Ralston.

“It means a lot for these guys to take time out of their busy schedule to be a part of the clinic,” said Ralston. “We’re very excited to have them be a part of it and be able to help these kids.”

Lewis-Harris is heading into his fifth season with the Bengals this fall after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee-Chattanooga in 2012. He played in seven games during the regular season and the Bengals’ playoff game in 2015 and totaled seven tackles. He attended Riverdale High School in Smyrna, Ga.

Shelley played 10 seasons for the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the 11th round of the 1987 NFL Draft. He saw much of his playing time on special teams during his professional career and was a four-time Pro-Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro selection.

He now works for the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office as a Sheriff’s Deputy.

Nance, Printup and Ralston all played big roles for the Calhoun Yellow Jackets before signing college scholarships with their respective schools.

Those are the instructors scheduled to help at the clinic, but Ralston said their will probably be more on the day of the clinic. He also said local high school coaches and players have been a part of the clinic in the past, and he assumes they will do that again this year.

Ralston added that along with t-shirts each participant would receive, they will also have special gifts for the kids and autographed pictures from the special guests.

Anyone interested in registering or anyone with more questions should call Sheriff’s secretary Shirley Woodall at 706-879-5452.

All proceeds from the camp will go to support the Sheriff’s Auxiliary.

“This group is a great help to the community and do many great things to benefit it,” said Ralston.