Rock Hill has developed a reputation as Football City USA because of the talent the city has sent to the college ranks and the NFL.
Saturday, former Northwestern Trojan and Super Bowl champion Ben Watson taught young football players about how to succeed in life, rather than just football.
Through his ‘One More’ Foundation, Watson and his wife have been “spreading the love and hope of Christ to ‘one more’ soul by meeting people’s real needs,” he said.
“Our whole purpose was finding an avenue to encourage people to help one person at a time. Also understanding the best thing we can do is not just to feed people but to tell them about Jesus. I can teach about football but if I don’t do something more than that, I do you a disservice. With our foundation, we always put that aspect into it because that is the solution to life’s problems. It’s not being a good football player or making money. The most essential thing is a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Watson and his foundation, in partnership with ROAR Sports, hosted his eighth annual Ben Watson Football Clinic at District Three Stadium. About 160 campers attended.
There were morning, afternoon and evening sessions, and players from South Pointe, Rock Hill High, and Northwestern assisted.
There were two clinics for second-fifth graders where the children learned fundamentals and one for middle schoolers that was more advanced.
Kids worked drills at various stations and split into teams by age groups and played games with the help of the high schoolers and the pros.
Among those wanting to be pros was Watson’s brother Asa, who is trying to make the New England Patriots, the team which Ben won his Super Bowl ring.
On Friday, Watson and Westminster Presbyterian Church hosted a community service project where 60 volunteers assembled more than 10,000 meals for “Stop Hunger Now.” Those meals will be sent to impoverished and needy families in Africa.
“We wanted to add a service component to it this year to do something different and we came up with the idea of partnering with “Stop Hunger Now,” Watson said. “It focuses on schools with the understanding that kids will come learn and be educated but also get something to eat. ”
Brent Williams, ROAR Director for Westminster Presbyterian Church, said ROAR Sports believes integrating sports, life, and truth are the best way to teach youth.
“We utilize sports as a way to share the gospel throughout the community,” Williams said. “God gives us the ability to be good on and off the field, and using the fruits of the spirit we can live it out and encourage each other. Ben and Asa have a great opportunity to go to the NFL, but our goal would be that if kids have a different path that they still work hard.”
The campers got T-shirts and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes distributed a New Testament Bible.
Williams said it is significant that these local NFL stars have not forgotten where they came from.
“I think it’s great that big names come out but it’s even cooler that they embrace these kids and have fun with them.”
Ben Watson played at Georgia before being drafted in the first round by New England. From there, he went to the Cleveland Browns and currently plays for the New Orleans Saints. Asa went from Rock Hill High to N.C. State and now has his shot with the Patriots.
The camp means a lot to Asa as well.
“I think it’s important to give back,” Asa Watson said. “It’s really cool to see ... kids (who) could probably be the next great Clowney, Gilmore, or Ben Watson. But it’s more than football. We’re telling them about life skills, perseverance, and things that will impact the rest of their lives. But the main focus is to tell them about Jesus. Christ is more important than football or sports. So that’s why you do camps like this. Even if they don’t make a decision today, it’s about planting that seed and helping them develop as young men.”
Helping the children meant a lot to the local players who are still trying to become that next star from Rock Hill.
“To see Ben Watson come back to Rock Hill is a big honor for me,” Rock Hill junior Sydney Campbell said. “It inspires me to be like them. And I thank God to have somebody to raise up these kids in the spirit because I was raised in the spirit, so I was glad to see that God was included in some way.”