Oakland Raiders player Donald Penn and his wife, Dominique hosted a one day football and cheer camp at St. Bernard High School on Sunday. This year marks the fifth year of the Donald Penn Football camp while the Cheer Camp is in its second year.
“I’m just happy I’m in the position to be able to give back to the community and give it free,” Donald said. “I try to focus on kids because kids are young and innocent.”
Children from the ages of four through 18 years old arrived to enjoy a day of drills and choreography. Each child that participated in the camp received free shirts and lunch.
Fellow Oakland Raiders and other NFL athletes helped facilitate drills. Children in the football camp worked on footwork, passing, receiving, and blocking.
“We got some real good coaches here,” said Raiders Right Tackle Menelik Watson. “[We] just incorporate the stuff we know, the stuff we learn everyday being pros and try and give it to the kids and hopefully it will help them.”
During the drills, the pros would praise and critique the kids. Raiders defensive back Sean Smith, a Pasadena native, mentioned how this was the first camp he attended in the Los Angeles area.
“I had the wide receivers and [defensive backs] so we did some feetwork, some technique and some one-on-ones at the end.” Smith said.
Among the pros was Los Angeles native Daniel Munyer, who attended Notre Dame High School and played for Colorado. He is an offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I was in everyone’s situation right here when I was younger, going to youth camps, trying to play football,” Munyer said. “What Donald does here every year, it’s just a great opportunity to give back to the community where he grew up.”
Participants of the cheer camp learned two cheers and one dance routine, two members of the Lakers Girls dance team were in attendance.
“What I wanted to do was incorporate girls into the mix,” Dominique said. “We need to give these little girls inspiration, encouragement, and things like that to promote our youth, health, and stability.”
The cheer camp performed their cheers and dance routine at the end of the day in front the football camp and parents. Participants of the football camp also engaged in a 7-on-7 scrimmages.
“The 7-on-7, I’m not gonna lie, got real competitive between me and another teammate, Sean Smith,” said Raiders cornerback Neiko Thorpe. “He was doing offense; I had my thing going with the kids on defense. But I would say we won because my players we had like at least 12 interceptions today, so I feel blessed.”
St Bernard’s football players Raymond Ramos, Elias Armstrong and Lashad Cranfield also attended the camp.
“It’s really important for the kids to come out and get that extra teaching, that extra tutelage that they need,” said St. Bernard Football head coach Jimmie Irby.
Los Angeles native Nelson Sawyer brought his 12-year-old son to the camp, he was appreciative of Penn for hosting the event.
“My son, he actually enjoys all sports, football was one of his favorite sports.” Sawyer said. “[He’s] having a really good time here, learning different techniques, meeting friends and doing different things.”