It is a common childhood dream to want to become a professional athlete; running onto the field for the first time, hearing a cheering crowd of 80,000 people, or signing autographs for adoring fans.
For more than 150 young participants who attended the 2nd Annual Eric Dickerson Youth Football and Cheer Camp, the burning desire of that dream manifesting into reality may, now, be brighter than ever.
On July 19 and 20, military family youth participants took part in mini-training camps, providing football and cheerleading mentorship from former professional athletes, at Camp Pendleton's 11 Area Football Field.
"I plan on going for linebacker or quarterback," said thirteen year-old Joseph Ramirez, referring to his future football aspirations. "This camp is helping me prepare for the times when I actually do play football."
The two-day camp was divided into two sections; youth participating in football ages 8-17 and youth participating in cheer ages 6-14.
Eric Dickerson, former National Football League running back and Hall of Fame inductee, along with other former professional football players and cheerleaders helped instruct the young athletes on a variety of essential skills and drills.
"We learned a lot of fundamentals like punting, holding the football when someone else is kicking it and throwing the football," Ramirez said.
The Eric Dickerson Foundation was created in 1995 and focuses on the development of youth through sports, education and leadership events.
"I've always liked doing stuff for kids just to see them smile," said Dickerson. "I haven't had this type of fulfillment since I stopped playing football."
Dickerson said the event is a great way for the young athletes to experience the outdoors while interacting with others kids.
"A kid might not know that he likes sports until he tries playing,” said Dickerson.”He might not know that he is fast until he gets out and runs.”
For more information about the Eric Dickerson Foundation visit the website at www.ericdickerson.org.