www.wqow.com Eau Claire
Tony (WQOW) -- Jim Leonhard may be a member of the New York Jets, but he'll never forget where he came from: Flambeau High School.
It's one reason he's back in his hometown of Tony for a third straight summer, leading the Jim Leonhard Football Skills Camp. Jets teammate Danny Woodhead is also on hand, along with a number of high school football coaches.
Leonhard says it's important for him to give back to the community where he grew up. Meanwhile, young players love the chance to learn the game from an NFL starter...who started small before making it big.
"Having NFL players involved in a camp, kids will listen," says Leonhard, "a lot of times they think they're pretty smart but when you bring in NFL quality players and coaches, they're going to listen, they're going to pay attention, they're going to really soak it up and take it to heart."
Woodhead says, "This is a way that NFL players, people like us, can give back to local communities and just to younger kids, just try to show them a few things that we know about football."
Flambeau H.S. senior Jake Stamper says Leonhard is an inspiration.
"No matter how big you are, you don't have to be the biggest guy out there," Stamper says, "as long as you've got skill, you've got heart, and you've just got the will to win and do good, you can make it, you can do anything."
"Just to give back to the community that really made me who I am today, it feels great," Leonhard says, "we've got kids from all over northern Wisconsin, some from southern Wisconsin. It's really great to see this camp, it's in year three and just continuing to grow and grow."
"When I was in high school, there just wasn't as many opportunities to stay in Northern Wisconsin and get a camp like this, so just trying to provide another service for the players and the coaches as well to help them for their upcoming seasons."
Gilman H.S. sophomore Dean Klimeck says, "It means a lot because it gives us hope that there is a chance with being from a small town and you don't have to be from a big city or somewhere like that to get into the NFL and stuff."
The high school portion of Leonhard's camp wraps up Friday. On Saturday, there's a one-day camp for kids in fifth through eighth grade.
Tony, Wis. native Jim Leonhard's dedication to the sport of football is widely renowned in his home state. For five days, Leonhard's focus on the gridiron isn't on improving his own game, but that of younger athletes, as he hosts his third annual football skills camp in his hometown from June 23rd until June 26th.
Thursday, more than 100 high school athletes turned out to receive coaching and instruction from Leonhard and coaches at the camp. Instead of just holding a clipboard and whistle, Leonhard is an active participant, an approach he believes helps drive home the skills he's trying to pass along.
"It's really important to run a camp to be involved," Leonhard said. "I've seen it run a lot of different ways. I believe to get in there, get your hands dirty, really help to make kids better. It means a lot for them to come around, be active in the camp."
Leonhard also knows the staff that helping him out at the camp has plenty of good pointers to give out as well.
"All the coaches I've brought in the past and this year have done a great job," Leonhard said. "Great teachers for the players and other coaches as well, a lot of information they can carry on to their football seasons, so hopefully they have more success."
Leonhard's footballl camp runs through Saturday, June 26th.