September 13, 2012

Glory Road: Tra Thomas

Find out how this NFL star is giving back to New Jersey teens.

Gary: Here at the 7Deuce training facility, the key word is intense.

“You know I don’t have time to baby nobody through this workout.”

There are pushups. And yelling.

“Let’s go!”

Weights. And yelling.

“You’re doing good – time!”

Pushing sleds. And, well, more yelling.

“You can’t even get your jumps because you’re looking out the window!”

It’s not for the weak of heart.

Or for journalists who thought this workout couldn’t be that hard.

“Talking about you want to do a workout and you’re not pushing! This is not an amusement park!

That big man with the big voice is Tra Thomas. Tra spent 13 seasons in the NFL, mostly with the Philadelphia Eagles. But his road to the pros wasn’t covered in confetti.

“I went to Florida State University, so being there, I had to wait my time. There were times I had to sit the bench. I sat the bench for four years. I was just was inspired by -mainly my parents. That kept me focused and kept me going, especially when times were getting hard.”

Now, he’s inspiring young people from New Jersey. He’s giving an eight-week NFL training program to Camden high football players, for free!

“You had a successful career, probably made a nice amount of money. Why go out to Camden and give your time?”

“Camden needs it. It’s just one of those areas that really need something like this to kind of just give them some kind of light at the end of the tunnel…”

The lights Camden residents are used to seeing are the red and blue kind.

The teens at Tra’s football camp all come from this city: Camden, New Jersey.

Camden is one of the poorest cities in the country. One in three people live below the poverty line. Almost 40% of students don’t graduate, and Camden has one of the highest crime rates in the U.S.

In 2010 Camden had almost six times as many violent crimes than the average U.S. City. This year’s already seen at least 47 murders.

“So what are some of the things you have to deal with growing up in Camden?”

“Just the violence is probably the worst. And if it’s not the violence, then it’s the drugs and the alcohol and the fighting and the gangs.”

“So a camp like this can help students get away from that?”

“Yea, it definitely can because we’re not around that negativity.”

Tra is teaching them not only football skills, but life skills.

“Your education is going to be extremely important, cuz you’re going to need that to even get college. And then you have to be…always be on time. Especially being a professional athlete, people don’t really tolerate paying you millions of dollars and you can’t even be on time…”

“So there’s an accountability factor…”

“Yea, there’s definitely accountability,.”

“What do you want to accomplish?”

“Graduate high school, college, and because a lawyer…go through law school.”

“And what are some of the things Tra is teaching you to get you prepared for college?”

“Discipline…that’s the main thing.”

And while I admit I quit during the workout, which is Tra’s biggest no-no,  he’s teaching them defeat is a choice.

“The main thing that I learned from this camp is to never give up..”

“I definitely want to see them go on to college, I want to see them be successful…everyone is not going to be an NFL athlete.”

Gary Hamilton, Channel One News.


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