On a sunny Saturday morning at the Gilman School in Baltimore, Brandon Copeland’s free youth football camp BEYOND THE BASICS started inside the gym rather than outside on the football field. The purpose- to make 1,000 hygiene kits and 1,000 new school bags for underprivileged kids across the community. Hundreds of campers formed teams to help expedite the process- with some moving boxes and lifting supplies to others stuffing kits and gathering finished products. As parents watched from the bleachers it became quite clear that the message from Copeland for this camp would be simple- the kids would learn more about life, perseverance and humility than football.
“It’s a great time to reflect and understand the journey that has gotten me here. Years from now you won’t remember how many tackles I had in week 3 of this season, but some kid from here will remember something that we taught them as a group,” Copeland told TWSN.
And the 6’3″ DL is quick to acknowledge that the event wouldn’t be possible without the help of many of his family/friends from over the years. Former teammates from UPenn and Gilman, trainers, coaches, NFL colleagues and his family all lent their hands in helping put on the camp in its 4th year.
“My brother and myself take pride in our last name. We want to put on and showcase a good camp not just for football, but for community service and leadership. It’s only one day out of the year- but its one day where we can get the kids to lock in onto something that is bigger than themselves,” Chad Copeland (Brandon’s brother) said during the camp.
When asked about where he and his brother get their motivation from, Chad pointed to his family. “We got to give it to our mother. She pushed us to do more than just sports. Our grandfather as well- growing up in that environment.”
Johnson Bademosi, who played with Brandon in Detroit in 2016 and now plays for the Houston Texans, told TWSN that he admires what his former teammate is doing back in the Maryland community. “Brandon is a life long teammate on and off the field. We are both about community, kids and promoting positivity. Brandon is doing that with this camp and teaching at the University of Pennsylvania.”
Campers from across the country had the opportunity to participate in drills taught by coaches and current/former players. After exciting 7-on-7 simulations everyone gathered together for a dance competition, featuring a wild rendition of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” with even some of the adults getting in on the contest. The day ended with free Chick-Fil-A meals and autographs for all participants.
Brandon concluded his press time with TWSN by saying, “For me, I’m trying to spread positive reinforcement in a world that is full of negativity. Positive encouragement, being a good person and not the bully- that is what I’m blessed to do and try to do.”
*For inquiries regarding pictures from the camp, feel free to reach out to TWSN on social media or by emailing COO Austin Meo (firstname.lastname@example.org)*