BROOMFIELD — If the perception of success was changed for one or two kids, the past two days was completely worth the effort for athletic trainer Tim Naiman and his nonprofit Dreams Never Alter Sports Foundation.
The Hometown Heroes camp held at Holy Family High School on Tuesday and Wednesday was for all intents and purposes a starting point for DNA, whose goals are to help kids in the 8- to 14-year-old range form a pathway to athletic achievement that may include opportunities in college and the professional ranks.
In order to hone in on that and give kids an up close and personal experience, Naiman — a former college football player and wrestler himself who once suited up for Niwot — brought along a lot of local high school and college athletes to work with about 35 kids in football position drills and physical training.
Also in the mix on Wednesday, taking the time to give pointers to individual kids working on some defensive drills, was one of Naiman's personal clients — Denver Broncos defensive lineman and Super Bowl champion Vance Walker.
"We want to reach out to kids and show them there are athletes at every level who are in it for the right reasons and are doing the right things," said Naiman, who works out of Impact Sports Performance in Superior. "I'm blessed to be around some great kids and appreciative that they are willing to give back. The progression of DNA and what we want to accomplish, this could not have gone any better."
At 6-foot-2 and 305 pounds, Walker stood out beyond just being a professional athlete but at the same time fit right in with what Naiman was trying to get across. Having played his way into a big time role at Georgia Tech, Walker was the 210th player taken in the 2009 NFL Draft and has since played in over 100 games over eight seasons.
Walker said he didn't have a lot of the same opportunities to get a step up on the competition when he was young, and Naiman's vision is clearly community-based.
"Just from watching him on a day-to-day basis, working with younger guys or even out and about, you can tell he's just passionate about giving these kids in the community opportunity," Walker said after taking a few minutes to sign autographs for the participants. "It's always good to have guys that care and that have been there to sort of show kids the way."
Indeed, Naiman's goals for DNA include taking over the North Denver suburbs as well as Boulder County in terms of supporting athletes in whatever way he can. That may include training, scholarships or even just sporting equipment — and that is what the fees from the Hometown Heroes camp will help get started.
To do that, he turned to his clients who grew up in the area. Among those leading the camp were: Dan Perse (Broomfield grad), Cooper Gardner (Broomfield), Derek Coleman (Legacy), Ty Leonard (Broomfield), Connor Spencer (Fairview) and Chance Segeth (Holy Family). All of those are currently or have played college ball, some at the highest level.
Some current high school players from Holy Family, including Michael Zeman, also pitched in.
"We want these kids, as they develop up through high school and on into college, to return to their hometown and at that point reflect on their growth and give back to a new generation of kids," Naiman said.
"From what I saw, the kids had a lot of fun both days and kept active in the drills," Zeman added. "They really just wanted to keep going and going."
While football players were leading some drills, Brian Finn of USA Rugby also instructed on rugby tackling techniques that are said to be much safer. Play with Heart also provided cardiac screenings to the athletes.
The Hometown Heroes camps will branch out to different sports in the future, but Naiman plans on hosting a hockey camp at the Promenade Ice Center in Westminster from July 22-24 — with many of the same goals in place.
More information on the DNA Sports Foundation can be found at dreamsneveralter.com.