Football can serve to support science, technology, engineering, and math education—training kids in sportsmanship and physical activity goes well with a dose of science and innovation.
In May, Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan hosted an “All Pro 2.0 Football and Tech Camp” at Nashville’s Antioch Middle School to do just that. The camp was a chance for youth to learn both the fundamentals of his sport and the ins and outs of recent technological advancements. Morgan’s initiative is the first of its kind among player camps.
“I kind of wanted to change the format of it a little bit, cause I’ve always seen a hole with some football camps. It was cool for the kids to see the athlete(s) and hear a motivational speech and get the coaching and whatnot, but most of those kids aren’t going to be playing at the NFL level—most of them are going to have to get normal jobs,” Morgan said. “So I thought that being able to combine the worlds of football and technology, in the hopes of bringing exposure to these kids, would be beneficial.”
The camp attracted 150 children from sixth through 12th grades and was organized through Morgan’s church. It put participants through football drills and included coaching from eight of his current Titans teammates. Off the field, the kids learned about and experimented with virtual reality, drones, robotic fingers, and used the Play Impossible smart ball to track the speed, spin, and height of throws from a smartphone.
Morgan majored in business management at Georgia Tech, but also studied science and technology there. He is also a graduate of the University of Miami’s Executive MBA for Artists and Athletes program.
His goal with the camp was to use his platform to encourage participants to learn about and pursue interests in various fields like technology and science. Morgan partnered with Microsoft, Drobots, which organizes drone-related STEM activities, and other technology companies to bring the STEM component to life.
“All these things we were trying to impress upon the kids, like ‘Hey, look, you have options for success. This is not just be in the NFL, be in the NBA or bust. There’s a lot of different avenues to success,’” he said. “That was the intention of the camp.”
According to Morgan, the attendees at his camp most wanted to hit the field upon arrival, but they also engaged in the technology lessons once they understood the purpose. The participating companies taught about the products and technologies that they had brought along.
While he felt that this year’s camp was a success, Morgan does not yet have plans for next year. He did say, though, that he wanted to explore options in his hometown of Coatesville, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia.