Miami head coach Manny Diaz, his coaching staff, and five current Hurricanes held a free youth football camp at Harris Field Park on Wednesday for about 100 participants.
Former local standouts DJ Ivey and Patrick Joyner, who both played at South Dade, and former Southridge state champion Mark Pope were among the current Hurricanes who helped lead the participants during drills.
“It means a lot to me knowing that I can come back to my community and show them that where I came from and that there’s a way out,” Ivey said. “There’s always an opportunity out there.”
Ivey believes sharing his message is important, “because when I was smaller I
didn’t get to hear all of that. Most of these kids out here probably don’t have a father figure so they probably look to us as a bigger brother. It’s good for them to hear.”
The Hurricanes were introduced to the youth and asked to share the park they grew up playing at and memories they had before UM.
Both Ivey and Joyner, who played for the Florida City Razorbacks youth organization, both mentioned their top memory as beating rival Southridge at Harris. Pope, who played his youth ball with Florida City, Palmetto,
and Richmond Heights, also listed a win over South Dade as his top memory.
“It means a lot,” Pope said on working with the youth. “I was in their shoes once upon a time when Deon Bush was out here and I came out there one day doing the same thing they are doing.”
The camp was the fourth and final satellite youth camp in South Florida this summer as part of the Manny Diaz Football Camps.
The camp is open to anyone from five years old to rising eighth graders. The Harris Field Park camp was in partnership with the Orange Bowl.
“The biggest thing we’ve gotten out of these camps was getting these young kids excited about the Hurricanes,” Miami safeties coach Ephraim Banda said. “The other thing about it is society right now is attacking our game bottom line, from all different levels from the NFL and you see it down in Pop Warner, and what we’re trying to do is promote safety within the game. We can teach the physical part of the game and still be safe and our defense is a living testament of that in how we tackle and the shoulder-leverage techniques we use and taking the head out of the game. We’re on a crusade right now trying to spread the word and show parents and everyone else that this game is safe and it’s good for these kids.”
Miami will host their annual Paradise Camp for high school players on Saturday.