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Ansley camp draws over 200

By Michael Butler

Derrick Ansley's Driven Athletes Football Camp was not just a camp that gave instruction to young campers, it was a bit of a homecoming. Ansley along with many former coaches and players united on the playing field at J. E. "Hot" O'Brien where Ansley scored touchdowns back in the late 1990s.

"To have so many of my friends, family, former teammates and some of my former players from all over the area come out and support what we're doing here in our community, I'm very grateful," said Ansley.

Ansley's high school coach Mark Rose was there with assistant coaches Jared Jones and Kevin Jordan from that 1999 team that finished 13-1 and reached the state semifinals.


"It was one of the best weekends I've had in a while," said Rose. "My reward is seeing what these guys are doing now."

On the Friday night preceding Saturday's camp, there was a reunion of some of the '99 guys.

"We stay in touch," Rose added. "The last time I was in Tallassee was when Jalyn Daniels was a senior (2021) and they beat Clay Central. It's been a minute."

Rose's five-year-old grandson attended the camp.

"It was his first football camp. Kids were having fun, smiling. You couldn't promote football any better. It was a great event - a blessing."

NFL players Alontae Taylor of the New Orleans Saints and Bryce Thompson of the Miami Dolphins addressed the kids. Both men played at the University of Tennessee, when Ansley was the defensive backs coach there.

"It's an honor and a privilege to come back to Tallassee, a place that means so much to me and to so many, and host this free camp for the children of our community," Ansley said. "To be able to reconnect with the youth here, who are experiencing an upbringing similar to what I had, is a blessing to me.

"This community – one that molded me as a young man and one that continues to shape me as I continue down my life path – has always been there for me, so to be able to come back and help mentor the next generation, continue to build on a foundational part of me and my support system, it is truly an honor."

Ansley pointed out that the camp, which he plans to make an annual event, is about more than just football.

"You never know how much a moment in time can impact a child's life. To provide these kids with an opportunity to learn the great game of football and the values it presents, can last a lifetime. If you want to achieve your dreams, you're going to have to do it the hard way. Who you are as a person, your character, is the most important aspect to whatever your future aspirations are. That's ingrained in our community and that's what makes our region so special, that the work has to be put in and it won't be just given to you.

"I'm always proud to say that I'm from Tallassee. Having so much support for this camp – the hundreds of kids, all of the volunteers that helped make this event come to fruition – continues to show why our community is so special and why it is a blessing to call Tallassee home."