Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Horace Copeland can still remember the day he met one of his childhood idols.
At a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp decades ago, Copeland met All-Pro defensive end Reggie White, who later was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“He shook my hand,” Copeland said. “A couple of seconds of acknowledgement changed my life.”
Copeland’s goal is to have the same effect on today’s youth, and for the third consecutive year, he will hold a free football camp in Spring Hill.
In partnership with the Hernando County Parks and Recreation Department, Copeland’s F88tball Camp will take place Saturday for youths ages 5 to 16 at the Anderson Snow Complex, 1360 Anderson Snow Road in Spring Hill.
The free camp runs from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Those interested can pre-register by calling (352) 754-4031. Registration is limited to the first 300 campers. Check-in begins at 8 a.m.
Campers will participate in drills and play a flag football game with a team of camp counselors made up of former NFL pros, including former Bucs Marcus Jones, Kevin House, Chidi Ahanotu, John Hunt, Kenneth Gant, Mark Robinson and former Denver and Philadelphia quarterback Dean May.
In addition to football training, the pros will share motivational speeches and life skills lessons.
Copeland, who was drafted in the fourth round of the 1993 NFL draft by the Bucs out of the University of Miami, played six seasons with the Buccaneers and finished his career with 115 receptions for 1,977 yards and seven touchdowns.
Food is provided free of charge and there will be an autograph session for families. Copeland said it’s important to provide families with these opportunities.
“A lot of parents can’t afford camps,” he said. “What about kids who have potential?