Determination. This seed can be planted as early as Pop Warner or as late as high school. But when football players set goals, strength of mind and self-assurance go a long way. Dermontti Dawson firmly believes that perseverance, hard work and education can lead you anywhere.
"Never let someone tell you, you can't do something," said Dawson, a former Pittsburgh Steeler Center. "Always believe in yourself and your abilities."
Dawson's personal belief in this philosophy earned him seven straight Pro Bowl appearances, six All-Pro selections and an All-Decade Team Honor for the 1990s. With all the experience and knowledge that comes with this success, Dawson chooses to give back by mentoring young players and helping them achieve their goals through the Dermontti Dawson Football Camp. The camp will be held at Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania, June 22-25, 2011.
His camp features daily instruction for both offensive and defensive players, focusing on all aspects of the positions some of which include stance, reading defenses and offenses, run blocking, pass blocking, tackling, route running, gap coverage, pass protection, play action and field leadership.
Dawson's favorite part of the camp is interacting and giving instruction to players. He believes the kids return year after year, because of the structure of the camp and the great staff that dedicates their time and experience. He feels that NFL players and coaches provide sound instruction and influence that lead to success on and off the field.
"[We are] able to sit and talk with the kids and give them advice about football and what it takes to get to the next level, not only athletically, but advice that can make them a better athlete and person."
Dawson, who was introduced to the game of football in 1979 when he played tight end at Leestown Middle School, played 170 consecutive games with the Steelers before suffering a severe hamstring injury. Dawson feels that dedication and hard work year-round help players become better athletes. The camps provide kids an opportunity during the off-season to stay in shape and receive valuable guidance from professional and collegiate players and coaches. The daily instruction, lectures and practice allow players ages 7 to 18 a chance to improve their skills and work on speed, power, agility, reaction time and quickness. This type of training helps keep players on track and consistently involved in the game. In addition, it helps instill a committed mentality, which can be applied to any area of a player's life.
"[I was] never satisfied with what I had accomplished the prior year and [I] always tried to get better and learn something new each day," said Dawson who continues to learn as he finished internships with the Steelers and Bengals, and is pursuing his current dream of becoming an assistant offensive line coach. "In order to get to any level, whether it is athletic or professional, education is the key element that must be achieved. A good education will take you further than you know in life."
He received his formal education from the University of Kentucky where he earned a football scholarship. However his biggest influences were two of his high school teammates Mark Logan and Cornell Burbage, who convinced Dawson to try out for the team his junior year. In addition, Dawson also credits his high school football coach Steve Parker for pointing him in the right direction. Once he made the team all eyes were on Dawson.
His perseverance paid off as he played for the University of Kentucky and then eventually became a Pittsburgh Steeler. But once Dawson achieved his dream, he still continued to work.
"The toughest part of being in the NFL was my rookie year. You are starting over from scratch and learning a new offensive system. I overcame my rookie year by studying and believing in myself," said Dawson. "My best moment in the NFL was playing in my first Super Bowl in 1995."
The concept of continually working hard to improve your performance and achieve your goals becomes one of the cornerstones of the Dermontti Dawson Football Camp.
Article by Anel Laj