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May 31, 2014

LOCAL SPORTS: Castille Character Camp leaving its mark on community

CULLMAN — Broc Malcolm sees a little of himself in each and every athlete who takes the field when the Castille Character Camp makes its way back to Cullman County.

The Hanceville graduate and current Idaho State wide receiver is no stranger to the annual event — now in its seventh year — having participated three times as student before shifting roles to a coach for the past three outings.

According to Malcolm, there’s not a better camp around for a prep athlete to learn all the tools it takes to be successful both on and off the field.

“It’s really a great opportunity,” he said. “Not only do you get great coaching, but coach (Jeremiah) Castille teaches you a lot about life. I remember soaking up so much when I was younger. He teaches you that no matter where you come from, you can be a good person.”

The camp was once again in full swing over the weekend, as kids from all across the county filled the bleachers at Heritage Park in anticipation of showcasing their skills in front of a star-studded lineup of former players and coaches.

Castille opened the event by addressing those in attendance before leading them in praying and sending them on their way to a two-hour workout designed to bring out the best in them.

Instructors included former Bama greats Steve Mott, Charles Jones, Dennis Alexander and Brandon Brooks, among others in maroon shirts. The coaches pushed the players, offering words of encouragement and technique advice when needed.

For Castille, the former Alabama and NFL defensive back, it’s a sound that’s become music to his ears.

“I’m really big on equipping and encouraging young athletes,” he said. “We want them to approach the game of football with energy, effort and enthusiasm. That’s what we look to teach them during these camps.”

While the football aspect in one of great importance, Castille knows the theme of his camp — character — will ultimately be what a person is judged on as they move on further into life.

In fact, that’s what he hopes the kids take most away from a two-day experience once every year.

“Character is what it takes to be a champion,” Castille said. “That’s what we’re about. That’s how they’ve got to do it. It’s part of the process and what you have to implement to become a champion at whatever you’re doing. Whether it’s football, life or something else.”

Several county football coaches were casually taking in the atmosphere on Friday, including Cold Springs’ Rod Elliott, Good Hope’s Chris Moss and Hanceville’s Danny Miller — who’s been an active participant since the camp’s inception.

The coaches all know how important it is for kids to get out and get better through these vessels. However, the difference between this camp and others — according to Moss — is, you guessed it, character.

The Raider head man always tells those who ask him which camps they should attend to come to Castille because “they are getting the total aspect of football.”

“These guys come out here every year and set an example for our kids,” Moss said. “As coaches, we always stress the physical part of the game. Sometimes, though, we don’t stress the character and the mental and the spiritual. That’s our fault, but these guys help us out with that.”

For Castille, it all comes naturally for him. The leadership, the enthusiasm and charisma, and the smiles on the kids’ faces. He loves to see “the excitement and sparkle” in their eyes when it comes down to talking about football.

It’s a big part of why he returns to Cullman year after year to continue his work with prep athletes.

“It’s like watching their dreams,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of faithful people here in Cullman that keep us coming back. They do a great job of putting together a support base we need for something like this. Hopefully, we’ll just keep on coming back.”

% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at jwinfrey@cullmantimes.com.

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