ANAMOSA - How often do you get to meet what could (and most likely will) be a future National Football League Hall of Famer?
Well, in the case of Anamosa eighth grader Ty Easterly, twice in a week.
But for everyone else who attended former Raider and current Baltimore Ravens 13-year offensive lineman Marshal Yanda’s football camp he donated to the Anamosa School Foundation Saturday, June 8, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It’s pretty cool getting to see what NFL players do,” said Easterly, who also attended the youth camp Yanda hosted for the Chelsey Bildstein Dream Foundation Sunday, June 2, at the high school football field, Yanda’s old stomping grounds.
“You don’t get to meet too many NFL players, so for one to come right here to our town is pretty cool. It’s even better knowing he’s from here, too. It’s almost like we could make the NFL someday, if we listen and take advantage of the opportunities that we get.
“That’s what Mr. Yanda says anyway.”
Yanda put the campers through various drills and then spoke specifically about his past and what it takes to succeed on and off the field.
“I feel it’s important for kids to know my past and how I got to where I am today,” Yanda said. “It wasn’t easy for me, and a lot of that I did to myself. But, I got a second chance and took advantage of it.
“I don’t want kids to have to do things the way I did them. I want them to listen to their teachers and get good grades and they will have opportunities in life.”
Yanda has been hosting youth camps for several years now in Anamosa.
“It’s just my small way of giving back to my school and my community,” he said. “I enjoy this as much or more than the kids. I look forward to it every year.”
But for the kids who got to hang out with Yanda for a couple of hours on the football field, it was the chance to meet and have some fun with a gridiron legend.
“I’m a lineman just like Mr. Yanda, and he showed me the things that I need to do to make myself a better football player and a better person,” Easterly said. “I’ll never forget that.”