Two current NFL players teamed up with Lakeland’s Police Athletic League and area coaches on Saturday to show kids just how its done on the field, and to give back to the community where they started their football journeys.
- Mike, Maurkice Pouncey played football at Lakeland High
- 1st year twins partnered with Lakeland Police Athletic League for camp
Twins Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, who before their prolific college and pro careers were standout football players at Lakeland High School, hosted their annual "Pouncey Twins Football Camp," now in its sixth year, at Lakeland Christian School.
More than 800 children children participated, learning how to play all of the positions on the football field, at the direction of the Pouncey twins, more than a dozen of their teammates, and area coaches.
Ph: Stephanie Claytor, staff
The free football camp, organized with Lakeland’s Police Athletic League for the first time, is just one way the twins give back to the Lakeland community that has given them so much.
"We just want to let them know that football isn’t the only answer,” said Mike Pouncey, a 3-time Pro Bowl center and guard for the Miami Dolphins. “You got to be doing good in school. You got to make sure you have a plan to fall back on in case football doesn’t work out."
That’s just one piece of advice Pouncey shared with one of his mentees, Dacoda Weaver. Weaver is entering his first season playing football, thanks to the encouragement of the twins.
Standing just as tall as them, Weaver wants to follow in their footsteps, and calls them his idols. He said Mike told him not to let his rough childhood prevent him from achieving his dreams.
"He said, ‘You know what man, that just makes you better for the person you are today. Be thankful for everything you get. You have a bed, you have a home. Everything you have. You’re working for what you want, and you’re going to get that one day,’" said Weaver.
Ph: Stephanie Claytor, staff
The twins’ mother was Weaver’s elementary school teacher. Weaver said their mother connected him to them when he was eight years old and she noticed he was getting picked on for being biracial.
Weaver has been close to the Pouncey family ever since.
"All we want is to teach them, to guide them and show them there’s a way out of poverty, honestly," Mike Pouncey said.
We asked the twins if they planned to promote change on a larger scale, and what was their response to Carmelo Anthony’s push on Instagram for athletes to be more vocal about demanding change in light of the recent police shootings and the police ambush in Dallas. Anthony called for athletes to do more than protest, march and tweet, posting to instagram Friday.
“We have to put the pressure on the people in charge in order to get this thing we call JUSTICE right…I’m calling for all my fellow ATHLETES to step up and take charge. Go to your local officials, leaders, congressman, assemblyman/assemblywoman and demand change.”
Mike Pouncey agreed with Anthony, while Maurkice called for a non violent approach.
“I think [Anthony’s] right,” Mike Pouncey said. “Athletes are put on a platform where they can be seen in front of everybody and they’re followed by a lot of people and so they’re very influential. So I think it’s our job to go out there and show people that this world needs to change and things needs to be changed."
"I think violence is not the answer at all," said Maurkice Pouncey, a four-time Pro Bowler with the Pittsburgh Steelers.