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Ridley speaks to local athletes at Miss-Lou football camp

Thomas Graning | The Natchez Democrat Trey Fleming clocks the time as Mason McCann runs the 40-yard dash during a football camp at Adams County Christian School Wednesday.
Thomas Graning | The Natchez Democrat
Trey Fleming clocks the time as Mason McCann runs the 40-yard dash during a football camp at Adams County Christian School Wednesday.

NATCHEZ — Stevan Ridley, along with past and present Miss-Lou athletes, encouraged local youth to pursue their dreams and work hard at the 2014 Miss-Lou football camp at Adams County Christian School Wednesday afternoon.

After working out at Louisiana State University, Ridley arrived at ACCS, preached grades first, shared secrets of his success and stressed good attitudes before fielding questions from a curious bunch.

“You’re the only person that can stop you,” Ridley said to nearly 35 participants. “You have to marry your sport or whatever you do. You have to have focus and the right mindset.”

Ridley, who will be traveling back to New England for the start of minicamps at the end of July, couldn’t believe how fast time has traveled since playing at Trinity Day Episcopal School in 2006.

“It wasn’t too long ago that I was here running track meets at AC,” Ridley said. “Now, I’m talking to kids who I’m a decade older than. It’s always great to see these young kids from my hometown.”

Those kids nearly suffocated him after his speech for autographs and pictures, still excited from the drills and two-hand touch games they played throughout the day.

 New England Patriots running back and Natchez native Stevan Ridley sings autographs at the Miss-Lou football camp.
New England Patriots running back and Natchez native Stevan Ridley sings autographs at the Miss-Lou football camp.

Maurice Thormburg Jr., 14, goes to Natchez High School and was happy to go to a camp that suited his age, instead of participating in older camps.

“Usually, I go to high school camps,” Thormburg said. “I learned that you have to learn the fundamentals before you take on more.”

Daniel Huff, 14, is an ACCS freshman that learned how to properly run the 40-yard dash.

“Every 40 I’ve ever ran, I stayed up,” Huff said. “If you stay low, you can be more aerodynamic and go straight through instead of getting caught by the wind.”

Of those past and present Miss-Lou players that helped, brothers R.J. Fleming and Trey Fleming helped teach fundamentals at the camp as well.

R.J., who spent the last four years playing for the Arkansas State Red Wolves, said he’s “put his life on hold” until spring, where he will resume pursuing a football career. In the meantime, he’ll spend some quality time with his brother.

“I’m going to have a chance to play in this Canadian (States Developmental Football League), but family first,” R.J. said.

The downtime frees R.J. up to help David King, who coached Fleming at Trinity Episcopal Day School in 2009, with the Adams County Christian School Rebels this fall.

It also allows him to see Trey play for the Rebels, which is something R.J. has only been able to do once in the past four years while playing for Arkansas State. Trey knows what that means.

“I got to do work this year with him on the sidelines,” Trey said.

In a setting where football was taught and roughly 35 kids gathered, Trey felt at home with his brother, who is four years older than him.

“We used to always do this type of stuff,” Trey said. “I was the little kid, and he was teaching me, though.”

R.J. might have had the most fun of anyone present, relishing the opportunity to serve as a role model.

“It’s so much fun,” R.J. said. “I could do this for life. It’s humbling to get back home and get this kind of love. I love showing them that there is a way out regardless of their circumstances.”

 

 

 

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