Like many things in the age of COVID-19, Deatrich Wise Jr.'s second youth football camp looks considerably different than last year's. Despite being limited to video messages and coaching from a distance, the mission - perfecting technique in the framework of brotherhood and positivity - remains the same.
Instead of group huddles, this year's camp is made up of individual boxes on a screen, and adapting is the name of the game. In basements, backyards, bedrooms and living rooms, a dozen young men used what they had on hand to run through two hours of drills. Wise, his brothers and other coaches showed prerecorded film to demonstrate, while watching closely and offering instructions.
And this meant working with what they have, without, as Wise said, putting a hole in your mom's kitchen.
"Usually, when it's a camp, you're in person. We can be hands on. We know what is there, their bag, their footballs, their cleats. It's open field," Wise said. "We know what comes with a football camp but when you're at home doing it, it's accommodating to what they have. Couches, pillows, chairs, cushions, anything that they can use. This one guy used wood up against his wall. We accommodated to them."
The Wise Up "Big Man Camp" is designed for linemen to develop their skills and techniques, both physically and mentally. The first of four sessions took place on June 6 via video call, and along with Wise, Lawrence Guy, NFL veteran Shaun Smith, and LSU guard Ed Ingram joined the camp, helped coach and offered advice.
"Nobody can put you down. You are your own greatest enemy," Guy said to the campers. "You only can put yourself down, but if you pick yourself up, ain't nobody can change anything about what you want to do."
Though normal athletics have been disrupted by the global pandemic, Wise said one of the main things he wants to impress is the importance of being ready.
"You always have to be ready, no matter how this quarantine or COVID-19 is affecting the world and with everything going on and everybody being still right now. One thing we know is going to happen is that there is going to be a season soon," Wise said. "All football players from grade seven all the way to the pros, we know that they have to be ready and stay ready in order to have a successful season."
For those enrolled, this camp is a chance at exclusive coaching with professional athletes at all phases of the game. From college to the NFL to life after football, the variety not only different perspectives but different ways to achieving the same goal. It won't be the same for everyone, Wise said.
"We have guys who have been where they want to go," Wise said. "I tried to get guys from different backgrounds, different journeys into the league. Everybody doesn't have the five-star recruit, first-round draft pick. We have different guys who had different journeys in life. They all shared their different experiences, but always the same message. It's always work hard, get better."
The money raised from registration benefits with Wise Up Dynamics charity fund for COVID-10 relief initiatives, and Wise said the idea behind Wise Up is simple.
"It's about education, gaining knowledge in every field. You're wising up in everything that you do. We take the wise up approach in all aspects – mental health, education, nutrition, the things that go on in the world about social issues, wising up about athletics, about whatever you're into," he said.
Wise is hosting virtual three more Big Man Camps on June 13, 20 and 27. For more information or to register, visit Wise's website here.