Sports Columns

July 15, 2013

A Look Ahead: Matthews’ camp brings a week full of activities

Perhaps you’re a young football player interested in getting an offseason jump on the game. Or you might be a “Joe” basketball player. Maybe you just want an autograph.

Whatever the case, a partnership between Athletic Edge, a local athletic training facility started by Tunnel Hill residents Ricky and Dawn Johnson and located in Tunnel Hill, and former NFL player Eric Matthews’ E-Matt Athletics will bring a variety of events to the Dalton area this week that might be of interest to you.

Matthews is a former wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers who played in the team’s 1996 and 1997 Super Bowl appearances, when the Packers beat the New England Patriots 35-21 but lost 31-24 to the Denver Broncos. A knee injury ended Matthews’ career in 1998, but he has become active in charity work and youth sports training, including running camps with the help of fellow former NFL players as part of his business.

Along with these camps, Matthews and other retired NFL players will host charity events this week.

The NFL players joining Matthews for the activities, which begin Wednesday and conclude Saturday, are Keith Henderson (San Francisco and Minnesota), Robert Hicks (Buffalo), Clinton “C.J.” Jones (Minnesota and San Diego), Thomas Lewis (Chicago and New York Giants), Chris Slade (New England and Carolina) and Ken Woodard (San Diego, Pittsburgh and Denver).

The week’s central activity is a football camp for ages 8-17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday at Northwest Whitfield High School. A one-hour camp for ages 5-7 will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. on Friday. At the conclusion of Saturday’s camp, there will be a barbecue lunch to benefit Northwest’s athletic program.

The main camp is $235, while the one-hour camp is $25.

However, that’s far from the only thing going on.

On Wednesday, there will be a 6 p.m. baseball game at Whitfield County’s Miracle Field. Joining the NFL players will be members of the Crossfire traveling softball team, local firefighters and other area groups to play with Miracle League players. Concessions, T-shirt sales and barbecue plates will be available, with all of the proceeds benefiting the Miracle League of Whitfield County, which provides an opportunity for physically and mentally disabled children and adults to play ball.

After that event, the former NFL players will host a meet-and-greet event at 8:30 p.m. at Chili’s in Dalton.

On Thursday, there will be another meet-and-greet event at 4 p.m. at the Oakwood Cafe in downtown Dalton. Following will be a “Pros vs. Joes” basketball game at 6:30 p.m. at New Hope Middle School. Funds raised from the game will benefit the City of Refuge charity and New Hope’s athletic program.

On Friday, there will be a night of activity at Retro Bowl of Dalton. With a donation to the local Boys & Girls Clubs, fans can go one on one versus any of the former NFL players in attendance in either bowling or pool.

To register for the camp, visit emattathletics.com. To learn more, call (404) 552-8838.

Here’s a look at what else is going on in the week ahead:

• When the Georgia Rampage moved to Dalton last summer, the professional indoor football team’s ownership and management pledged to offer more than just games at the trade center a few months each year. Instead, they said they would be involved, visible members of the community who gave back to fans and others in the Dalton area.

One offering is Tuesday’s 5 p.m. youth football camp at the John Davis Recreation Center at 904 Civic Drive in Dalton. While it’s not free, the three-hour event for ages 6-12 comes with a reasonable price tag of $30 if you sign up by today; it’s $10 more if you wait until Tuesday. Either way, all campers will receive a T-shirt and a ticket to a Rampage game for 2014, when the team begins competition in the newly formed Xtreme Indoor Football League.

To find out more, visit garampage.com.

• The All-Star break is here for Major League Baseball, but the minor leaguers play on this week, and both the Chattanooga Lookouts and Rome Braves host home series this week.

There are good promotions on the docket, too. The Lookouts have their regular fireworks show on Friday night, and on Saturday you can take in their annual — and highly popular — “Used Car Night” promotion, during which a vehicle is given away every inning. Meanwhile, the Braves will be giving away bobbleheads of All-Star reliever Craig Kimbrel to the first 1,000 fans on Friday, while you can remember the ’80s the following night with a postgame concert by the Bon Jovi cover band Slippery When Wet.

• Dirt track continues at North Georgia Speedway with Hobby Night this Saturday. Gates open at 3:30 p.m. for a 7:30 start, and you can learn more by visiting northgaspeedway.net.

Devin Golden is a sports writer for The Daily Citizen. Have something you think he should highlight in “A Look Ahead?” Write to him at devingolden@daltoncitizen.com.

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