Superstar camp returns for 25th year
Published 2:28 pm Thursday, May 24, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
A quarter of a century ago, Ruben Hairston had an idea.
Hairston’s days as a professional football player were over, and he was moving on to the next stage of his life.
Hairston wasn’t ready to leave the sport behind, though.
Football had meant so much to Hairston, and he felt he could make an impact on the young people of Troup County through the sport.
It was that in mind that Hairston and a few others created the West Georgia Superstar Football Camp.
Now, 25 years later, the camp is still going strong.
This year’s camp will be held on June 1 and June 2 at Callaway Stadium, and has been the case since the beginning, there will be no charge.
The camp is open to boys and girls from the ages of 8 to 18, and they’ll get a chance to learn from a star-studded group of instructors, most of whom played in the NFL.
Once again, Hairston will be leading the way, barking instructions through his megaphone while patrolling the turf at Callaway Stadium.
For Hairston, it is a labor of love, and he said the chance to be a positive influence on young people makes everything worthwhile.
“What keeps you going is when the small kids come back and say they appreciate the camp,” Hairston said. “It makes you feel good when you have kids come back and tell you they appreciate what we did for them.”
Hoston Fannings, a former football player at Troup, was a regular presence at the camp growing up.
His father, Bill Fannings, was one of the founders of the camp.
“I always liked the people they had (as instructors),” Hoston Fannings said. “You had people that either played in the pros, or college, people who were involved in it. Especially when you’re younger, that makes it cooler to be involved in it.”
Bill Fannings said no one was thinking about keeping the camp going for 25 years when it first started.
“You never know,” he said. “You have to do it year by year, and hope it keeps going.”
Hairston said as the camp approaches each year, there’s a growing sense of excitement.
“Every year we get motivated and ready to go,” Hairston said. “It’s like when you’re a player getting ready for the season. You work toward that time of year.”
Some of Hairston’s fondest memories are of some of the outstanding young players who have come through the camp.
“There have been a lot of guys that came through like Nate Hill, Vince Sutton, Marty Carter, Tony Stargell,” Hairston said. “We’ve had pretty much everybody that played in the NFL, or gone on to college, they went through this camp.”
While Hairston appreciates the instructors who have been coming to the camp for years, he encourages local players to help out as well.
Last year, for instance, Callaway offensive lineman Keiondre Jones served as an instructor.
“They see somebody they can relate to,” Hairston said. “They have instructors there who have a lot of experience. To see someone that you know, that lives in the neighborhood, that makes the young kids want to come out here and be a part of it.”
As for the future, Hairston hopes to keep the camp going for years to come.
“I’ll keep doing it,” he said. “Even if they have to roll me around on a wheelchair, I’ll still do it.”
WHAT: West Georgia Superstar Football Camp
WHEN: June 1 (5 p.m. until 7 p.m.); June 2 (9 a.m. until noon)
WHERE: Callaway Stadium
WHO: Boys and girls ages 8 to 18
REGISTRATION: Pre-registration at Ethel Kight Resource Center and Griggs Recreation Center. Registration will also take place on day of the camp at Callaway Stadium.