Jul. 13—Former Tuscola High School football star and current Liberty University player Brayden Monday hosted a youth football camp at C.E. Weatherby Stadium in Waynesville on Friday, July 1.
The camp was attended by rising fifth — eighth graders, and featured a punt, pass and kick competition, skills and drills and a relay race.
"It was on short notice, but I loved the turnout," Monday said. "I love the way everybody supported me and I was able to support them back."
His inspiration to host the camp came during summer break from college last month when he was home in Waynesville.
"I was sitting at home you see all these guys who throw camps and all these big schools that have camps for people, and I thought about Haywood County. Not a lot of people come back. Not a lot of people have left from here and went and done something like me and Kam Walker and people like that have gotten to do," Monday said.
That's when he thought about Tuscola, the school that helped him become a college football player, and of a way to give back to his own community.
"I thought, 'what better way to give back to my community?' I love where I'm from. I'm proud to be from here. My family is from here. It's a big deal for me to be able to give back," he said.
Hosting the camp took Monday down memory lane.
"I think about when I was 8 or 9 years old, Tyler Brosius was playing here."
Brosius was a football and baseball standout who went on to play at NC State.
"He was my hero. He was just as big to Ben Roethlisberger to me. He was a big deal. I don't know if those kids feel the same way about me, but that's how I felt then. They threw a Tuscola High School camp and Tyler Brosius was there. I was just starstruck," he said.
Back then, however, Monday didn't see college football in his future.
"When I was their age, I would have never dreamed that I would be where I am right now. I was 5 foot, 5 inches tall, 5 feet wide. I was slow and I wasn't very athletic," he said.
But Monday knows all-too-well how time and growth can change a lot.
"Your body grows, and it grows at a different rate [for everyone]. Some of them aren't as developed as the others, but time will tell. Hopefully, it encourages them to get out of the house and come play a sport they love," he said.
Monday also finds inspiration in his Christian faith.
"The biggest thing is being able to give back. Servant-leadership is a big thing. Selfishly, you want to be served. But when you serve, that's the best way we can glorify God. That's what he was: a servant. Not that I'm anything close to Jesus, but he always gave to those in need. Some of these kids may never had an opportunity to play or this might be their first time playing football. So if I can give that opportunity to a kid, I'm gonna do that," he said.
Monday said hosting a camp was great motivation for him, too.
"It's helped me have a little bit more motivation to move forward because a lot of these kids believe in me. It was awesome to get to come out here and play with them. I hope that I was able to encourage them to work hard in everything they do."