McNorton and friends to help local kids again

Filed under DAYTONA BEACH, LEAD STORIES, NEWS, SPORTS

Former NFL player’s annual football clinic set for June 1-2 at Derbyshire Park

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

Hundreds of kids participate in the Bruce McNorton Football Clinic in Daytona Beach each year.

A youngster learns football fundamentals during a previous clinic hosted by Bruce McNorton, who grew up in Daytona Beach.
(DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM)

The former NFL player’s annual event will take place at the Derbyshire Sports Complex, 849 Derbyshire Road, on June 1 and June 2. Registration starts at 4:30 p.m. on June 1.

The clinic is free for boys and girls ages 6 to 20.

“Yes, girls can come! When we first started, we had more high schools but since 7-on-7 (football programs) got more popular, they left. We get more young kids now ages 8 to 14,” McNorton told the Daytona Times.

Advice from pros
Local coaches as well as pro friends of McNorton will work with the students. The camp will focus on teamwork principles, proper techniques, championship mindset and football fundamentals.

The coaches also will offer academic advice.

“I think what makes this camp different from the others is that the guys working at this camp are not here for photo opportunities. Our coaches and training are out there, encouraging kids and working with them instead of watching and discussing what they will do after the clinic,” responded McNorton.

Veteran player, scout
McNorton, who grew up in Daytona Beach, is a current scout for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, a position he has held for 18 years.

He spent nine seasons in the NFL as a defensive back with the Detroit Lions (1982-1990) who drafted him in fourth round of the 1982 draft. He spent one season on the Miami Dolphins roster (1991).

After his career ended, McNorton spent five years as head football coach at Pontiac Northern High School in Pontiac, Michigan.

In high school, he played one year at Mainland High and two at Spruce Creek, where he graduated in 1977.

Mentored by Dungy
He also played cornerback for Georgetown College (Kentucky) at the NAIA level. He got to play in the Senior Bowl and was coached by NFL Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy in that game.

McNorton remembers, “Dungy was the defensive backs’ coach for the game. He called me ‘Georgetown.’ That is when they really started looking at players from smaller schools for the game. Dungy told me not to be intimidated and to believe.

“He has been a mentor to me every since. I appreciate it. We still talk every now and then, especially when I run into him at seminars and camps. He coached defensive backs with the Kansas City Chiefs when I was in the NFL. He wanted them to draft me. He told me that I would be a good player and would be around.”

Not getting paid
McNorton’s football experience inspired the creation of the football clinic, which has been going in Daytona for 11 years after operating five years in Pontiac, Michigan.

McNorton expressed, “God has blessed me to be in position to do this. Many guys have non-profits. People tell me to do one, but I haven’t yet. I know what it costs to do this. I fly in guys to help run it. I have been able to get financial support and donations from local businesses and people to help.

“Everything goes to the kids. I don’t get paid, and I don’t pay the coaches in the camps. Just seeing the kids enjoying it and getting something out of it works for me.’’

Creating opportunities
Making the clinic affordable for local kids was another goal.

“When I was growing up, there weren’t as many football activities. The opportunities that were available I couldn’t afford. My parents couldn’t afford to send me to out of town camps. I can’t recall any in Daytona,” he shared.

“I met and spent time with current Edward Waters College and former Bethune-Cookman football coach Alvin ‘Shine’ Wyatt. He was the only pro athlete that I knew at the time. If I had these opportunities, I would have been all in. Those experiences motivated me to share something with young athletes and to give back,” McNorton told the Times.

NCAA seminar
The clinic also will host an NCAA eligibility seminar, which will be held at 6 p.m. on May 31 at the Yvonne Scarlett-Golden Cultural & Educational Center, 1000 Vine St.

The seminar will cover NCAA clearing house requirements; high school coursework pre-requisites; new grade point average and test score requirements.

“We want more parents than athletes. A lot of our kids don’t go to Division I colleges and end up going to junior colleges because they haven’t been prepared,” McNorton explained.

“Many kids take courses in high school that don’t meet the college core requirements. Parents are often confused because a kid graduates but can’t get a scholarship. This provides them with information that they need to know.”

The clinic is presented in partnership with the City of Daytona Beach.

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