ROCKINGHAM — The first month of the inaugural “In Tha Heat” sports camp, run by local coach and trainer Errol Hood, ended with an unfinished game of dodgeball inside the Falling Creek Gym early Friday afternoon.
Campers were tired from spending the last four to five hours outside — where they played gatorball, kickball, soccer and touch football, competed in a home-run derby and made a splash in the pool — but neither side gave in to the fatigue.
Each time either team was on the ropes, the last player standing caught one of the opposing teams’ throws in order to get its teammates off the sidelines and back onto the court. Time ran out before a winner could be decided.
“Oh, it’s a full day, seven hours, of nothing but sports,” Hood said. “That’s what you want when you go to a camp, you want to play, and the kids are wore out when they get home. I have parents call and thank me for it.”
The idea to put together a summer camp came at the requests of parents who have seen the numbers Hood has been able to produce at his gym, Tha Shack, and with the Richmond Raider Youth Football Program — the high school’s feeder teams.
It didn’t take Hood much time to find a spot, Falling Creek, that had everything he needed to set up and run shop.
The camp isn’t so much about teaching the youth how to play the different sports, however, as it is to just “increase the awareness of sports” and get the children in the community to be active. Hood says he’s seen a lot of kids throughout recent years who don’t know how to play football or basketball, or any other sport, due to how much time they spend on their cell phones, playing video games, etc.
“I just wanted to get the kids — my kids, too — to do something. Ever since the little game Fortnite came out, all they’ve been doing is sitting on the couch,” Hood explained. “Kids don’t go outside to play any more. They’re stuck in the house online all day, so you want to get them out and playing some old-school games.”
To help things run smooth, Hood has a staff of three: Travis Byers, Jordan Everett and Cassie McFayden.
Byers is one of the coaches for the youth football program, Everett works as a life guard, and McFayden is a 2017 graduate of Richmond Senior High School who now plays soccer at Lees-McRae College. They all participate throughout the day and help him keep track of everyone from the earliest time they can arrive (7:30 a.m.) until the end of the day (3 p.m.).
“I feel like it’s been successful. How I measure success is if they come back the next week, and so far we’ve pretty much had the same kids,” Hood said. “They come in and they can’t wait to play, they leave out saying, ‘I had a blast’ … and then they go and tell their friends about it. That’s how you know you have a successful program.”
There won’t be any camp dates next week, as Hood is set to go on vacation, but things will start back up the following Monday, July 9. In the second month, the camp will be every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Falling Creek.
For more cost and more information, contact Hood by phone at 910-331-6896 or on Facebook at “Errol Nathaniel Hood.”
“My goal next summer is to rent out this whole facility and do it five days a week,” he added.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.