Seahawks legend Jim Zorn visits Bellevue for free youth football camp

Jim Zorn talks with a youngster at the free Jubilee REACH football camp - Courtesy photo
Jim Zorn talks with a youngster at the free Jubilee REACH football camp
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Summer camps in every discipline from sports to music are part of the itinerary for most families once school concludes for the year, but few offer the chance to work hand-in-hand with one of the legends of Seattle's most prized sports franchise.

Jim Zorn, a quarterback with the team from 1976-84, and an assistant coach on the NFC Championship team during the 2005 season, was in Bellevue last week to spend time speaking to a group participating in a free football camp through Jubilee REACH, giving youngsters a live link between the franchise's past and present.

"I'm giving back the minimum," said Zorn, who was the camp's opening speaker and delivered a message focused on giving maximum effort even in spite of difficult or unfamiliar circumstances. "Everyone here is going to get some kind of experience."

Jon Kitna, who played quarterback for the Seahawks after finishing his collegiate career at Central Washington University, and a host of University of Washington football coaches also made appearances to speak with campers.

University of Washington standout Damon Huard also spoke, while coaching staffs and players from each of the four Bellevue public high schools were also on-hand to offer instruction and provide a glimpse of what football can offer.

Zorn said his focus was on finding a way to reach each camper, whether their focus was as simple as a few hours of outdoor fitness, or a future under the lights on the gridiron.

"Everyone has a different approach," he said. "Football is one of the greatest sports in the world."

While the concern of head injuries is front and center for parents considering signing their children up for football, Zorn said offerings like Jubilee REACH's flag football program, and camps like the one in Bellevue, provide a chance to explore values like teamwork the game can highlight.

He said he only began finding mentors through sports in high school, and he believes the interaction between the campers and current high schoolers was one of the most impactful aspects.

"The biggest difference is how young these kids get to have a great experience," he said. "Don't be afraid of not being successful."

More than 100 middle school boys and girls from Bellevue took part in the camp.

Sponsors MOD Pizza and Dickey's Barbecue Pit provided dinner for campers, and Redeeming Soles gave free cleats to any youngster who was in need of a pair.

Athletic distributor Eastbay, along with Ignition Partners, Apol Imaging, Steelhead Partners, the University of Washington and each of the four schools also sponsored the event, along with the Bellevue Bears youth football system and Jubilee REACH.

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