The Pro Football Camp, held annually each summer on the Nicholls campus in Thibodaux, may or may not be held this year.
That makes it no different than any other endeavor in the era of the coronavirus epidemic.
Still, the business of awarding scholarships continued for the foundation.
Awarded scholarships recently were Chandler Rhodes of Vandebilt Catholic, Khalil Brisco of Thibodaux High, and Hayden Seneca of Berwick.
They were selected based on their accomplishments on and off the football field. Presenting sponsors are orthoLA and Thibodaux Regional System.
“We started the scholarship program probably about maybe eight years ago,” said Dr. David Elias with orthoLA. “The camp is a non-profit organization. We always look at how we can give back to the community. We started giving scholarships to any senior participant of the game in that year. We just gave out three, $1,000 scholarships for the award winners to use in college next year. The three award winners in last year’s camp, so they were going to be a senior in last year’s summer camp.
“We’ve probably given close to $30,000 in scholarships since we started the scholarship program, so obviously, that’s something we want to keep growing.”
The camp began 13 years ago by sports agent Albert Elias. Elias would bring over some of his professional football clients to instruct area high school players one day each summer.
Albert Elias died in 2012 at the age of 42 and Dr. David Elias decided to keep the camp running in honor of his brother.
This year’s camp is scheduled for July 17. Because of the state being in Phase One of safety protocols in dealing with the virus, the status of the camp is in a holding pattern.
“We’re obviously keeping our fingers crossed,” said Elias. “It’s (potentially) disappointing but understandable. We’re in unprecedented times right now. This is our 13th year in a row, so obviously, we want to have it. It means a lot to us, the community, Coach (Tim) Rebowe, Nicholls. We want to do the camp.”
“I guess we are in the same predicament as everyone else is,” he continued. “Right now, we’re just kind of wait and see. We will be planning and prepared to do the camp but we’re going to see what’s going on around us – what is the state going to say about football camps and what is Nicholls going to say about what camps they are going to allow at the school.
“We will do everything possible to make it as safe a camp as we can, if it does happen.”
As a medical professional, Elias is on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19.
“I go back and forth from a personal view and a medical view,” said Elias. “I sit on the board at the hospital and I’ve been right there on the front of the decision making of how we will react to his unprecedented virus.
“I always tell people there is no blueprint for what to do. We’ve never seen this in our lifetime. You want to look back and say, ‘I hope we made the right decisions.’ I think the biggest thing is you didn’t want to overcrowd the hospital system and not have hospital beds and heath care and ventilators to take care of patients.”
“I think what we did worked,” Elias continued. “You certainly see that the hospitals are not overcrowded right now. The future, no one really knows. I go back and forth. I think we do need to get the economy back. We’ve got to live our lives. I think the lives we are going to live as we open the economy will be a little different. We will still have to practicing some kind of distancing and hand-washing and some safe things so we don’t increase the spread of the virus. This virus is now part of our community. We will have to learn to live with it and against it.”
With the camp slated for mid-July, there is still hope the event will go on as scheduled, according to Elias.
“By then, we will be in a different phase of this reopening,” said Elias. “Maybe there will be a chance they will let us have it. I’m sure we are going to have to change some of drills we do. I don’t think they are going to encourage any kind of contact drills, which we don’t do a lot of, anyway.
“We will make whatever adjustments we need to if the camp is possible. We may have to restrict some of our numbers. Last year, we had 300 people. We will do whatever is necessary. We do realize it’s right around the corner and we very well may have to cancel the camp this year.”
If the camp goes on, a lot of familiar faces are likely to be involved.
“Some of these guys have been coming since the start of the camp – people like Jarvis Green, Skylar Green, Eric Alexander, Mark Roman, Al Woods, Phillip Livas, once he got done with his career, he joined the camp. Trevon Reed has recently been very instrumental in helping with the camp,” said Elias.
More NFL stars may be on the scene in future years, said Elias.
“We do like to keep growing and getting the current guys. We will seek out for maybe an Amik Robertson, Elijah McGuire, all the locals guys that have made it to the NFL. It’s funny, a lot of these guys were at this camp when they are were all in high school. It’s kind of cool to have them come back as counselors as NFL guys.”