Vinny Curry Gives Back With Free Kids’ Camp

first_imgBy Tim Kelly Vinny Curry was talking about playing football. Playing football in general, and playing football for a living. “When football is no longer fun, that’s the day you should stop playing,” said Curry, a Philadelphia Eagles defensive end. From the look of the infectious grin on Curry’s face Saturday at his Fourth Annual Vinny Curry Football Camp, that day might be far into the future.“(NFL players) perform at a high level, but it’s still a game. It’s supposed to be fun,” said Curry, who is preparing for his eighth pro season.“At this level,” he said, gesturing toward the more than 200 kids in attendance, it should be all about fun.”Saturday at Ocean City’s Carey Stadium, that was certainly the case. A DJ blared hip-hop, a man chopped up fresh fruit and made smoothies, and Swoop, the Eagles mascot, led cheers. Each child received a free T-shirt. Ocean City 97.3 ESPN did a remote broadcast of “The Locker Room With Billy Schweim” from the field, and several Philadelphia TV outlets recorded the proceedings. Members of the Ocean City High School football coaching staff were on hand, including (from left) head coach Kevin Smith, coaches Tim Kelley and John Bow and defensive coordinator Sean Matthews.The free one-day camp for kids in kindergarten through eighth grade “is my way to give something back to the community,” said Curry, who started every game in the Eagles 2017 Super Bowl-winning season.  “We’ll try to teach them a few fundamentals. It’s really about getting out here with their friends and having a great time.”Bright sunshine, balmy temperatures and a cooling ocean breeze created the perfect atmosphere for the event. “Weather is the one thing you cannot control and I couldn’t have asked for a nicer day,” Curry said. About a dozen members of the Upper Township Indians youth league teams were among the kids, many girls included, in the stands. Michelle Drewnowski, a team mom, was smiling along with the players.  “This is great,” she said. “When we heard Vinny Curry was doing a free camp in Ocean City, we thought it would be a good team activity before we start actual practice.”Members of the Upper Township Indians youth league teams attended the camp, along with a team mom, Michelle Drewnowski (at right).The Indians were not alone. A number of other youth squads were in attendance, as well as a large number of individual campers. Counting parents, more than 300 people were on hand, organizers said. There were several dozen volunteer coaches on hand, including former Eagles wide receiver Freddie Mitchell, who caught the famous “Fourth and 26” pass from Donovan McNabb to help defeat the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs in January 2004. It stands as one of the most famous plays in Eagles history.Curry also thanked Ocean City officials for their cooperation, which helped make this year’s event the largest in its history, he said. It was the first time the camp was held in Ocean City. Curry, who has a home in the area, also works out at a local gym.“I love Ocean City,” he said. “I’ll be here all summer.”At least, he said, until the start of training camp. “It means a lot that so many people came out to help, especially a member of the family, who is Eagles alumni,” Curry said, in reference to Mitchell. Vinny Curry holds his son, Noah.Curry was briefly an Eagles alumnus himself. He spent last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after six seasons with the Birds, who selected him in the second round of the 2012 draft out of Marshall University.  With the retirement of Chris Long and departure of free agent Michael Bennett in the off-season, the Eagles found themselves short at the defensive end position, paving the way for Curry’s return. For his part, there was no hesitation, even though it was reported he could have made more money on offers from other teams. “This is home, man,” said Curry, a native of Neptune, Ocean County. “When you bleed green as much as I do, it was an easy decision. I love the players in that locker room. I love the coaches. I love the fans.”If there were any remaining doubts of that, Curry laid those to rest when he got on the microphone and exhorted the crowd – which didn’t take much prodding, to do some “E-A-G-L-E-S” chants.“That’s what I’m talking about!” he exclaimed after a spirited chant rang out. Participants at the Vinny Curry Football Camp run through some drills. Vinny Curry (second from right), with Eagles’ Alumni member Freddie Mitchell (far right) and some of the 300 attendees at the youth football camp on Saturday at Carey Stadium.last_img read more

Independence torch travels through a fractured Central America

first_imgDozens of people waited for the independence torch in Peñas Blancas, the Costa Rican town on the border with Nicaragua. There, the two countries are divided by a diagonal line where Costa Rican asphalt meets Nicaraguan cement.There are two huts, just a few meters apart where police from different nations stand guard all day. It’s exactly there where dozens of people await the torch, which has traveled the same path for more than fifty years.But this time’s different.For days, the torch moved through a Central America submerged in protests, repression, assassinations, and violence. In the early hours of Sept. 13, it passed through that asphalt line at Peñas Blancas and through an implicit enmity between Ticos and Nicaraguans, which has been stronger in recent months. The independence torch crossing the line that divides Nicaragua and Costa Rica. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)There are serious and angry faces in the north. Flags of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) fly above the Nicaraguan one. A giant sign with the faces of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo welcoming you or saying goodbye looms over travelers. Soldiers with military weapons roam the place with an air of despair and distrust. Nicaraguan border officials stand guard at the border. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)Some Costa Rican police spoke among themselves:“Do you realize that the torch is moving from North Korea to South Korea?” one immigration officer said.Nicaragua’s partisan alienation and political radicalization has made it worthy of comparison with the enigmatic Asian nation.“Don’t you read the news? It’s not perfect here. There are protests too,” his partner said.Costa Rica has been enveloped in protests against a proposed tax-reform law since Monday. It was a central part of Carlos Alvarado’s campaign but now unions, public sector employees, students, and political groups opposed to the ruling party have hit the streets to oppose it. Public sector employees, union members and citizens during a general strike against a proposed tax-reform law on Sept. 10, 2018. Protesters at the general strike in San José on Sept. 10, 2018. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)The protests stopped Édgar Mora, Minister of Public Education (MEP) from attending the torch handover at the border. Vice Minister Rosa Odolio had to take his place.It’s ironic to think that this symbol of international freedom and liberty passed through Daniel Ortega’s hands a day earlier. The same man who the United Nations (UN) says does not provide an environment of peace and freedom for his people.Costa Rican journalists and government officials who hadn’t signed up beforehand weren’t allowed to cross the border to document the delivery. I asked one of the Costa Rican immigration authorities if it is common to see the scene. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega (R) receives the torch of Peace and Freedom of Central America for the 197th anniversary of the Nicaraguan Independence during a ceremony at the National Palace in Managua on September 12, 2018. (AFP Photo / Inti Ocon)“[The Nicaraguan immigration police] are like that. That doesn’t surprise me. You’ll get used to it,” he said.According to reports from the MEP, the delivery between countries only had a few formalities from Nicaragua and the notes of the Costa Rican hymn were played. It was something small, simple.In her speech, Miriam Raudez, Sandinista Minister of Education, insisted that in “Nicaragua everything was normal and peaceful,” contrary to reports from the Organization of American States (OEA) that say there is a serious state of repression in Nicaragua. Raudez affirmed that there wasn’t any type of crisis.“A victorious greeting from the president Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo. We are not a people that get scared, we are a people of peace, we want peace. This country has been able to transcend any plan to destabilize and break peace in Nicaragua, they couldn’t and they won’t. These heroic people work for peace,” said the minister, according to La Nación.Later the torch was taken by Deylin Ugarte, a student at of La Cruz’s night school.Six years ago, Deylin, tall and imposing, had to leave school because she got pregnant. This year she was chosen as the best student of her school and was in charge of crossing this symbol between the two borders.The torch, which has been recognized as a Costa Rican patriotic symbol since 2005, entered Costa Rica late. It was held up in Liberia because of strikes and delayed more due to blockades in Guanacaste and Puntarenas. A roadblock in Puntarenas during the general strike on Sept. 13, 2018. (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)In these provinces, a group of protesters decided to block roads to the capital to protest tax reform and protect themselves from police.As reported by the MEP, protesters with the National Association of Educators (ANDE) and the Association of Teachers of Second Education (APSE), detained and harassed students, teachers and MEP officials, forcing them to airlift the torch Cartago.The Education Minister, Edgar Mora, acknowledged these reports and noted that this was the first time the torch’s route was interrupted in since the tradition started 54 years ago.“It is a lie that there were no deliberate acts to delay, delay, interrupt and use this patriotic symbol in a different way than we have used it for years,” Mora said. Deylin Ugarte and other students from La Cruz’s night school were the first Costa Ricans to carry the independence torch this year.  (Alexander Villegas / The Tico Times)The torch will end up in San José on Sept. 15, the Independence Day of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.The future of Central America is uncertain. The region is home to some of the most violent cities in the world. Nicaragua is engulfed in a dictatorship. Costa Rica, a beacon of stability in the region, is facing an economic crisis.Central America, a territory that was celebrating its liberation and independence 197 years ago, is filled with people fighting for freedom and peace again.It seems like a cycle that will never end. 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