By Greg gulas
For most NFL players, the month before training camp is a time for rest and family time, all the while collecting one’s thoughts about the grind of the upcoming season.
Then again, Youngstown’s Brad Smith isn’t like most NFL players.
Having already done an internship this off-season at the prestigious Men’s Health Magazine, Smith will complete his internship duties July 17 when he represents the magazine at this year’s ESPYS in Los Angeles, barely a week before he is due to report to training camp for the Buffalo Bills.
Traditionally, the month of June is when Smith gets the opportunity to return home with his family and he will play host once again to 250 area boys and girls at his annual True Foundation Football Camp, slated for Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. at YSU’s Stambaugh Stadium.
“It’s always great to come back home and our football camp is just one small way to give back to the community. It’s a way to help inspire and encourage local boys and girls with over 20 area coaches providing instruction and fundamentals about the game,” Smith said. “We cut registration off at 250 so that we can provide meaningful, individual instruction.”
Smith’s scholastic coach at Chaney High School, Ron Berdis, is camp director, a post that he has now held all six years of the camp.
He’s someone that Smith respects for what he taught him during his formative years, not only on the field but away from the game as well.
“We either talk or text at least once a week and he’s always encouraging me. What coach [Berdis] taught me in high school and the rules that he set down for his players and team still apply for me today; they really do work,” Smith said. “People like Coach kept me in line.”
Berdis has assembled a staff that will provide fundamental instruction for all positions, both offensively and defensively while Smith will interact with all camp participants.
“Brad has trusted me to run this event and I am only too glad to do it. We’ve been able to put together an excellent coaching staff and they cannot wait to get started,” Berdis said.
Berdis called Smith the most unassuming, caring person that he has ever known.
“I’ve said this many times before, but Brad truly is the most humble person that I have ever had the pleasure of being around. He epitomizes what every athlete, husband, father and human being should be,” Berdis said. “He’s a solid, Christian man who cares deeply about everyone. If my son grows up to be half the person Brad Smith is, then I’ve done a great job as a parent.”
As for his internship experience, Smith said he learned about a month’s work of material in just over a week but was happy to be exposed to every facet of the magazine.
“The magazine is a fitness and health magazine, but they cover a wide range of topics from cars to fashion to nutrition and more. The staff was very professional as I was exposed to how they market their product, advertise and was even able to accompany them at several shows,” Smith said. “I love working with people and when my playing career is over, this might be an avenue I’d like to explore.
“While at the ESPYS, I’ll be looking at what everyone is wearing on the red carpet, keeping an eye on individual styles, why they chose what they are wearing and what it means to them.”
Steve Halloran, owner of the area’s House of Speed franchise, also returns to provide speed training instruction to all campers as well.
The camp is expected to run until 2 p.m.