Day of Champions teaches at-risk youth life lessons

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/15/2011 06:59 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Ken Heupel, president of the Day of Champions and former head football coach for Northern State University, instructs students on the field during Cherokee Nation’s Day of Champions football camp. CN COMMUNICATIONS
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation on June 28-29 partnered with the #14 Foundation to coach at-risk youth during the fourth annual Day of Champions football camp held at Sequoyah Schools.

The two-day camp teaches students respect, discipline and trust and was held at Sequoyah’s football field. It featured prominent football coaches and players who act as mentors.

“We’re trying to instill characteristics, traits and discipline that are going to allow them to be successful on the field in different athletics, but more importantly in the classroom and hopefully in life as they become very productive citizens,” said Josh Heupel. Heupel is the University of Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator, a former Sooners quarterback who helped the Sooners win the 2000 NCAA national championship and #14 Foundation founder. “The camp is built on four principles – discipline, respect, trust and hard work. We believe if they carry those characteristics with them that’s going to enable them to be extremely successful in whatever it is that they are passionate about.”

The Day of Champions provides one-on-one mentoring and coaching in athletics, health, fitness, life choices and the four principles of leadership. Each day includes specific position skill instruction, nutritional information, strength and conditioning drills, plus individual and team competition. Positions are taught by some of the top collegiate coaches in the country, as well as former college and NFL players, including Josh Heupel’s father Ken Heupel, a former head football coach for Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.

This year 148 students deemed to be at-risk were chosen to participate in the Day of Champions by community youth coalitions from Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Muskogee, Nowata, Rogers, Sequoyah and Washington counties.

CN Behavioral Health Services hosts the Day of Champions, which strives through community partnerships to achieve the tribe’s philosophy of happy and healthy people by strengthening efforts in communities to reduce substance abuse and its consequences.

“This has been a great opportunity to come in and work with our youth,” said Josh Heupel. They are a very professional organization and our coaching staff has really enjoyed being here and having that opportunity.”

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