Pro Bowl MVP and Oakland native Lorenzo Alexander and his nonprofit, ACES Foundation, recently hosted its ninth annual Hold the Line Football Camp.
ACES, which stands for Accountability, Community, Education and Sport, s uses sports as hook to get the kids into the foundation. They then the importance of being accountable for themselves, their community and their education, explained by Akeem Brown, executive director of ACES.
“It starts with raising these young kids, and we’re trying to get them ready. If we can get them to care about their community, themselves, and to be accountable for themselves, we can transform our entire community,” said Brown.
The camp, held at Castlemont High School in East Oakland this year, welcomed over 150 student athletes ages 5-14. Founded in 2008, the ACES Foundation partnered with the no weight limit youth football team, Bay Area Seminoles, backed by a number of prominent Black men from “The Town” including Marcus Peters, Marshawn Lynch, Josh Johnson, Trestin George, Lamont Robertson and even film maker Ryan Coogler.
The day’s program consisted of competitive drills with guidance from coaches, parents and other volunteers from all around the Bay Area.
One proud parent who travelled from Salinas to Oakland for the camp said, “It’s good to see my son, daughter and nephew all come together to do something positive.”
During a conversation with Johnny Alexander, Coach Lorenzo’s grandfather, the importance of youth sports was brought up. “Sports keeps kids out of the streets. For many athletes coaches act as father figures and teaches them how to work as a team to achieve something rather than stepping on one another to get on top,” he said.
Whenever the slightest bit of trash talking would occur, the coaches would make the young people drop and to 10 sometimes 20 pushups.
The camp closed with a speech by Coach Lorenzo, answering questions from the kids and gave gifts to the best performances on the field as well as to the kids who brought their transcript with them.