Former NFL offensive lineman Joe Berger brought his eighth annual youth football camp back to Newaygo Tuesday.
A sixth-round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2005 out of Michigan Tech, Berger starred on Newaygo’s varsity team and went on to play in 145 career NFL games, starting in 84. Berger spent his for first seven seasons splitting time between the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys before settling in with the Vikings in 2011 and retiring in 2018.
“I love doing this,” Berger said. “This is home for me. We moved back here because we love the community, we just love the area and to be able to do this every year. I think it’s important, and that’s why this year we want to try to make it work if it was possible.”
Tuesday’s camp was free to boys and girls who are in grades K-8 and was split into two sessions of 100 participants.
The camp featured instruction from Berger as well as from coaching staffs from Newaygo and Tri County High Schools.
“We have football-theme drills that we do, but it’s not just about football. We’ll play dodgeball and we’ll have tug-of-war and we’ll do all kinds of things just to get the kids outside to play and get them active,” camp coordinator Kevin Harkness said. “Especially this year after kids have been quarantined and locked up a little bit for obvious reasons, it’s good to get them outside and moving.”