June 21, 2016
Reprinted with Permission of the Novi News
A summer football camp with Jim Harbaugh missing in action?
Those who attended Monday night’s Novi Wildcats Fantasy Football Camp weren’t there to showcase their elite skills to college recruiters. There were no 40-yard dash times and the campers got in for free, while also receiving a T-shirt, refreshments, snacks and a certificate for participation.
In conjuction with Easter Seals, Novi football players and staff interacted with those with special needs, many of whom particpate in sports with the Miracle League of Michigan.
“We’re trying to teach our young men here to have character and start giving back to the world a little bit,” Novi coach Jeff Burnside said. “The game of football is a lot of fun and every kid should enjoy that. And to give the Easter Seals kids a chance is really a good thing. And there’s no better way than doing it with young people that don’t get the opportunity to play football.”
Many of the campers are challenged without a sound mind or sound body, but Burnside simulated the camp like a real practice, giving them the chance to particpate in cone and bag drills that are used to increase agility. The campers also learned the basics of blocking, tackling, throwing and catching.
“It’s really great for us to give back because it really shows us how truly lucky we are to have the ability to play this game and like how unfortunate these kids are,” Novi defensive back Ryan Welch said. “It’s also awesome to teach them this game.”
Campers also got a chance to do a little end zone touchdown celebrating as well.
“We have a little bit of fun at the end, teach them touchdown dances,” Welch said.
And the lead TD dance demonstator on the Novi football team?
“That’s our boy Anthony D’Annibale,” Welch said.
It was only a week earlier that some of the Novi players got to partner up volunteering with the special needs players at a Miracle League softball game in Southfield.