Luther Campbell didn’t believe his son, De’Vondre, would be come an NFL player when he started playing football in the ninth grade for Cypress Lake High School.
“But he had a dream, a vision that one day he wanted to play professional football,” Luther Campbell said.
By 2017, De’Vondre Campbell’s presence in the big leagues included 92 tackles and a trip to the Super Bowl with the Atlanta Falcons.
Before beginning his third year of NFL play, the linebacker returned to Southwest Florida and the same field where his dream began, hosting an annual football camp to inspire young athletes in our community.
“Being able to make their day, you know, I wish I had this when I was younger so I take things like this and moments like this serious,” De’Vondre Campbell said.
Another thing Campbell takes seriously: the heat.
“Football is a unpredictable sport and weather is a part of that. You don’t know if you’re gonna have to play in the blizzard or you’re gonna have to play in scorching hot heat.”
Saturday’s free youth camp involved the latter, so Campbell and other mentors were sure to prioritize hydration and the health of young athletes on the field.
“They said it’s important to a lot of water,” said 9-year-old camper Phinn Heath.
The Campbells said they are happy to see regulations regarding heat safety improve.
“Coaches in the past would just say, ‘push it, push it, suck it up, suck it up,’ then kids throw up and stuff but now there’s a big difference to be hydrated,” said Luther Campbell
MORE: Lee County football players train under new heat illness policy
“I think it’s huge that the county is taking steps and making it regulation to where you have to hydrate kids and you have to do things like that,” DeVondre said. “I think that’s huge and it just shows how important it is to them.”