DELAWARE, Ohio – After playing football at Ohio State and spending a couple years in the NFL, Joshua Perry believes it is his duty to give back to his community.
That’s why the former Ohio State linebacker hosted his second annual free youth football camp, through the Joshua Perry Family Foundation, for about 230 children ages 7-13 at Olentangy Berlin High School on Friday morning.
“Guys retire, they start a charity, and that’s what they do. So I felt like I needed to do it, but for me, it was important to be able to have a free camp,” said Perry, who retired from the NFL in 2018 and is now a real estate agent and broadcaster. “I just enjoy feeding into the community where I grew up and hosting a bunch of kids who want to come out here and have fun.”
Perry, who grew up and still lives in nearby Lewis Center, Ohio, was joined at Friday morning’s camp by members of his family, Olentangy Berlin’s staff of football coaches – some of who previously coached Perry at Olentangy High School – and even one of his former Ohio State teammates, Tyvis Powell.
“Josh is like another son of mine, so any time he needs my help, of course me being the father, the great father that I am, I’m going to always lend a hand just to give him some direction,” said Powell, who was jokingly also known as Cardale Jones’ ‘father’ during his Ohio State career. “And you know I like being around kids and playing with the kids and showing them that football is a fun sport.”
Over the course of Friday’s four-hour camp, which was sponsored by USA Football FUNdamentals, campers went through a variety of stations to learn football skills and agility drills. In line with the USA Football initiative, Perry said he wanted the camp to teach its participants the basics of the sport. But most importantly, he wanted them to have a enjoyable summer day.
“We’re working on catching the ball, throwing the ball, running the ball,” Perry said. “We’re working on defensive techniques, we’re working on tackling. And so the emphasis here is getting a ton of reps. We want the kids running around and moving. We need them to be learning skills, but at the end of the day, it’s about having fun for these cats.”
Powell, who is training with the goal of playing in the NFL this year even though he is currently unsigned, could even be seen running through some of the drills alongside the campers.
“When we get to the NFL or the big levels of it, the fun of it kind of goes away a little bit, so just being out here with these kids just lets me know how fun it is, and I get to be the kid that I truly am,” Powell said. “I don’t think that I’m 25, I feel like I’m 10 years old with these kids. So it’s a good thing for me. I know I don’t look the part, but I feel the part. That’s the best thing about it.”
Former Ohio State linebacker Joshua Perry is holding his second annual free youth football camp at Olentangy Berlin High School this morning. Former Ohio State defensive back Tyvis Powell is also here helping out. pic.twitter.com/Ky9Zoj6I9i— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) June 21, 2019
Looking ahead to next year, Perry said he is hoping to make his camp more accessible to children in areas of need. About 20 children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus were bussed in for Friday’s event, but Perry acknowledged there are many other areas of Columbus in which there are more families dealing with financial hardships.
Through his foundation, Perry is also working to fund educational initiatives for children in the Columbus area.
“We want to inspire our youth through empowerment, self-efficacy and education,” Perry said. “So we empower them with tools and mechanisms. Self-efficacy is making them confident in their ability to use them. And then the education part’s our tie-in.
“We’ve done school supply giveaways, which this is also a fundraiser for school supplies. We’ve given away Chromebooks at an elementary school so they could do some music technology there. And just getting out in the community and spending time talking to the kids at school and talking about challenges they face. Talking about leadership and trust. Talking about growing up and character, I think is big. So we just want to fill a need that we see within the community, and really put role models in place for young people.”