story by Brittany Shepard
photos provided by Marquez White’s “A Different Way Out” Football Camp
As a senior at Northview High School in Dothan, standout athlete Marquez White was on the fast track to athletic success after earning many accolades as a two-sport athlete. He had been offered and had accepted an athletic scholarship to Florida State University where he would play both football and basketball.
But during his senior year of high school, more than just his future success was on his mind.
“The ‘A Different Way Out’ football camp was a vision of mine that started my senior year of high school,” said Marquez. “The city of Dothan is filled from end to end with young promising athletes that need the opportunity to be around positive influences as well as sharpen their skills on the field.”
After making the decision to focus on football at Florida State, Marquez began turning heads in his cornerback position. He knew that he would be entering the NFL draft in 2017 with a chance to become a professional football player.
The time was ripe for his high school vision to become a reality, and he didn’t want to wait to “make it big” before he made a difference. During the summer before his senior year at Florida State, Marquez returned to Dothan with fellow FSU teammates in tow to host his first “A Different Way Out” football camp in May of 2016.
“It is a very rewarding feeling,” said Marquez. “I am now able to see the goals I set as a young man manifest themselves.”
The camp was such a success that the 2nd annual “A Different Way Out” football camp was held in March of 2017, just a month and half before Marquez was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
The camp, held at Northview High School, is open to area kindergarten through twelfth graders and focuses on speed and agility drills. However, the mentorship component of the camp is perhaps the most impactful part.
“I think that allowing the kids to be around successful and influential athletes is one of the most important factors of camp,” said Marquez. “It’s always good to have them there because it allows the kids to interact and get to know the players on a personal level instead of just seeing them on television.”
Marquez plans to continue the camp in the future and is hopeful that it will only grow and have more of an impact on the community. He said that he owes the success of the camp to the many local coaches and volunteers that mentored and coached him as a young athlete that now take the time to help his camp’s vision reach more athletes in the Wiregrass.
“The support from these individuals is what makes the camp go,” said Marquez. “I have a great team of coaches and players that encourage the parents to bring their kids.”
What is the mission and vision of “A Different Way Out” Football Camp?
The vision of this camp is to one day be a pipeline for young athletes from the Wiregrass area and southeast Alabama to make it to the collegiate level. Also, some short-term goals include starting a seven on seven team that will compete on a national level. We would also like to be able to give grants to the athletes that earn athletic scholarships to their universities of choice.
What goals would you like the football camp to achieve for the community and for the athletes that participate?
I would like for the camp to give our athletes in the community the opportunity to bond and build relationships with other student athletes from different schools. I would also like for the camp to bring out more and more professional athletes each year to help mentor the kids.
What do the athletes do during the camp and what skills do they work on?
During the camp athletes work on speed and agility drills which are in direct correlation with the movements they will use while competing throughout the course of a game.
What inspired you to start this camp in Dothan?
At the time there were a number of different negative events that were happening in different schools throughout the Dothan City Schools system. It was just about time for school to get out for the summer, and I came up with a positive way for the kids to start off the summer as well as something for them to look for each year.
What is the most rewarding thing about being involved with the camp?
The most rewarding thing is seeing the smiles on the different kids’ faces and also watching the parents that get the opportunity to see their kids compete against each other in a safe environment.
What is your camp’s greatest need and how can our readers help?
The greatest need is encouraging more and more parents to get their kids involved in this event. Be on the lookout in the local media for the 2017 dates.