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NFL players bring positive message to Team Pete youth

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Anthony Trucks (left), former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, and Greg Scruggs (right), Seattle Seahawks defensive end, dance with kids as they prepare to give a presentation about their football careers and the importance of hard work and dedication at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, July 13, 2015. They were at Peterson for the Pro Football Camp, a nonprofit organization that uses football to give back to the community and encourage youth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Anthony Trucks (left), former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, and Greg Scruggs (right), Seattle Seahawks defensive end, dance with kids as they prepare to give a presentation about their football careers and the importance of hard work and dedication at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, July 13, 2015. They were at Peterson for the Pro Football Camp, a nonprofit organization that uses football to give back to the community and encourage youth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Three professional football players greet excited kids before talking with them for the Pro Football Camp at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, July 13, 2015. The players giving advice were (from left) Greg Scruggs, Seattle Seahawks defensive end; Anthony Trucks, former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, and Brian Folkert, center for the Carolina Panthers. The camp started 10 years ago as a way to give back to the community and encourage kids to do their best in everything they do. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Three professional football players greet excited kids before talking with them for the Pro Football Camp at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, July 13, 2015. The players giving advice were (from left) Greg Scruggs, Seattle Seahawks defensive end; Anthony Trucks, former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, and Brian Folkert, center for the Carolina Panthers. The camp started 10 years ago as a way to give back to the community and encourage kids to do their best in everything they do. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Greg Scruggs (center), defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, gives advice about sports and life to Peterson youth at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, July 13, 2015. Scruggs, Anthony Trucks (left), former linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Brian Folkerts (right), Carolina Panthers center, were at Peterson for the Pro Football Camp, a nonprofit organization that uses football to give back to the community and encourage youth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Greg Scruggs (center), defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, gives advice about sports and life to Peterson youth at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, July 13, 2015. Scruggs, Anthony Trucks (left), former linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Brian Folkerts (right), Carolina Panthers center, were at Peterson for the Pro Football Camp, a nonprofit organization that uses football to give back to the community and encourage youth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Youth wait in line to ask professional football players questions about football and life at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, July 13, 2015. The pros in attendance were (from left) Anthony Trucks, former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker; Greg Scruggs, Seattle Seahawks defensive end and Brian Folkert, center for the Carolina Panthers. They were at Peterson for the Pro Football Camp, which reaches out to communities and encourage youth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Youth wait in line to ask professional football players questions about football and life at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, July 13, 2015. The pros in attendance were (from left) Anthony Trucks, former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker; Greg Scruggs, Seattle Seahawks defensive end and Brian Folkert, center for the Carolina Panthers. They were at Peterson for the Pro Football Camp, which reaches out to communities and encourage youth. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Master Sgt. Karmann Pogue, U.S. Northern Command contingency operations superintendent, and her daughter Ava talk with Anthony Trucks, former linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as they get his autograph at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, July 13, 2015. Trucks was one of three professional football players at Peterson to give advice to youth about sports and life in general. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Master Sgt. Karmann Pogue, U.S. Northern Command contingency operations superintendent, and her daughter Ava talk with Anthony Trucks, former linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as they get his autograph at the R.P. Lee Youth Center, July 13, 2015. Trucks was one of three professional football players at Peterson to give advice to youth about sports and life in general. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- When the sound system began pumping out the familiar notes of Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk" and the crowd of kids in the R.P. Lee Youth Center began dancing and hopping along to the beat, it was clear this would be no typical motivational lecture. When the three speakers danced into the gym it confirmed it would be an exciting time.

Two NFL players, Greg Scruggs, and Brian Folkerts, were joined by former NFL pro Anthony Trucks to share a positive message with Team Pete youth about sports, hard work and life. The three are in town as part of the pro coaching staff at Pro Football Camp, which is in its 10th year of bringing players and youth together to learn how to be successful in football.

Judging by the response of the audience and the turnout for autographs following the presentation, everyone had a satisfying experience. Each of the speakers addressed a different topic, sharing how each one plays an important role for young people.

Folkerts, a center for the Carolina Panthers, told the group that playing sports provides skills that are valuable in life. Sports, he said, teach characteristics that can be applied on and off the field. He said he played a number of different sports growing up and the experiences changed his life for the better. Playing sports is also a good way to get to know people, he said.

Scruggs, defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, addressed the issue of hard work. Others may be taller, stronger or faster, but work ethic can level the playing field.

"One thing that can never be taken away, you can always work hard. Nobody can take your hard work," Scruggs said. "I've never hated a coach who asked me to work hard."

He encouraged the audience to put forth their best efforts in all they do, or whatever sport they play, and promised if each one did that he or she will be successful in anything they undertake.

Trucks, a former linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, said life has both ups and downs, but the individual decides how to respond.

"You can choose to be unhappy or choose to smile," Trucks said. "You have a choice every single day to live your life happy."

He is the author of "Trust Your Hustle," about how he overcame growing up in the foster care system, abusive caregivers and other obstacles that would cause many people to throw in the towel.

"Life has its ups and downs, but it's all how you look at it. Appreciate what you have," he said.

Having the players come out to the center is just another way to provide positive experiences for the kids, said Carlos Wade, sports director at the youth center. Helping youth become better people is a key element in the purpose of the center, and exposing them to a positive message from people who have found success accomplishes just that.

Team Pete youth who were at the event found the experience valuable, as well as entertaining. Masyn Hager, 10, enjoys archery and football. He liked what the players said about how a coach might say something that seems hard, like saying you will never be a lineman, to actually challenge you and lift you up.

Alejandro Aleman, 12, enjoys baseball, soccer and football. He thought what the players said about respect was important. Aleman said he learned that when someone is pulling you back it is because they are below your level.

Both young men also attended the NFL Pro Camp at Vista Ridge High School. The things the players mentioned during the presentation at the youth center are on display at the camp.

"It's actually got me better," Hager said of the camp, "because I am working harder each time. Just because your mom signed you up doesn't mean you will get better. You work hard to get better. I didn't expect so much work, but I am glad it is because I see improvement each time."

"I like how they interact with you and tell you how to do things," Ales said. "You can see yourself going pro."

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