The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 1:00 am

Woodson bringing his camp back this summer

Snider graduate credits football for his success in life

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Rod Woodson is giving back to the Summit City.

The NFL Hall of Famer, who grew up in Fort Wayne and played high school football at Snider, will host a football camp for local youths and high schoolers from July 6-10 through his foundation, Hope Through Football.

The camp will also focus on character development and sportsmanship, helping athletes learn who they are meant to be as a person, according River City Sports, which has partnered with Hope Through Football to put on the camp for students in grades 3-12.

“Everything I have in my life is from football, playing it, coaching it, talking about it on TV and calling games over the radio,” Woodson said in a statement. “To give back to a sport that has given me everything that was a very easy decision. I started HOPE Through Football to give players here in the U.S. and internationally the same opportunity to live a dream and to believe in who they are like I had.”

Woodson's foundation will also partner with the NFL's “Way to Play” initiative and will be held in cities throughout the country, including Fort Wayne. The camp will be split into two parts: a youth camp July 6-7 and a high school camp July 8-10.

The event will feature a variety of experiences for participants, including speed clinics, classroom-style teaching of proper on-field techniques, breakout sessions on life skills, breakout sessions for coaches, recruitment tactics and food trucks.

“We are honored to be working with Rod and his foundation to bring this experience to Fort Wayne,” River City Sports CEO and president Willie Burton said in a statement. “While helping prepare our youth for the 'game of life' River City Sports is committed to providing more opportunities for players, parents, and coaches to enjoy participating in youth sports.”

Woodson previously hosted an annual football camp in Fort Wayne from 1994 to 2007. In excess of 10,000 kids are estimated to have gone through the camp in its 14 years of operation.

The 2009 Hall of Fame inductee will discuss the camp during a press conference at the Police Athletic League of Fort Wayne at noon Thursday. Woodson played football in the PAL program as he was growing up in the city.

Woodson led Snider to a semistate title in 1981 and a regional crown in 1982 and then played college football at Purdue, where he was a two-time All-American defensive back. He was a first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1987 and played 17 years in the NFL, earning eight All-Pro selections, 11 Pro Bowl berths and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1993. He was a member of the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1990s, as well.

For more information about the Hope Through Football camp, contact Burton at or by phone at 260-438-7843.

Sign up for our daily headlines newsletter

Top headlines are sent daily