As a spiraling football sailed through the air and into the waiting arms of an open receiver, who waltzed into the end zone, Goldsboro High School’s Cougar Stadium erupted with cheers late Saturday morning.
Perhaps none of those cheers were louder than those coming from one of Goldsboro’s most notable alumni, Jarran Reed. Reed, the former Cougars’ football standout, and current Seattle Seahawks’ defensive tackle, was back at his alma mater for his annual football camp.
Reed was joined by numerous other Goldsboro alumni, current and former coaches, former Green Bay Packers teammate Kenny Clark, and current Carolina Panthers defensive end Kobe Jones. Campers were separated by age group and position, and given training with the focus ranging from conditioning, to fundamentals and technique and concluding with a 7-on-7 team portion.
As the offense, coached by Reed, scored on a deep pass on the first play of the 7-on-7 session, Reed sprinted downfield in celebration while letting out joyful cheers. If anything was evident on this muggy June morning, it was that fame and success haven’t dampened Reed’s childlike love of the game.
“When I do stuff like this and I come back to my home base, it brings back memories of everything,” Reed said. “I love being on this field. Being on this field taught me things in life, and taught me how to persevere. I grew up on this, so when I come back it brings back the joy to see the kids soaking up everything we give them.”
As the camp drew to a close, Reed gathered the campers around him and imparted some wisdom onto his captive audience.
“Everything that you’ve been taught here today, take that with you and continue to work on it on your own,” Reed said. “Remember that accountability and responsibility are important. Who are you accountable to? This game can take you a long way if you’ll continue to work hard.”
As Reed reflected on his own youth and the influences that shaped his upbringing, he was quick to point to the upperclassmen on the 2008 Goldsboro football team. Reed was a sophomore on that Cougars’ squad that finished 10-3-1 and reached the third round of the state playoffs.
Goldsboro followed that up a year later with a 12-3 record and a trip to the fourth round of the playoffs.
“The whole class of 08′,” Reed said. “When I came in those were the guys we had looked up to. Especially my big brother (Donald Pollack). He wanted to make sure I was on a good path, and make sure I was doing right. He helped me out.”
Reed’s impact this weekend on the community he still calls home extended beyond his football camp. On Friday evening, Reed participated in a panel featuring black visionaries at the Paramount Theater, and he has a community day and basketball tournament scheduled for Sunday from 2-7 p.m. at H.V. Brown Park.
“These kids have to see us,” Reed said. “I know I’m an athlete, but I’m a real person. I came from the same place they came from. I’m not Hollywood, I’m a real person. They need to see that authenticity, so they can be around us and feel our energy and they can build off that. I just really hope it gives them hope to be a better person and be a better student.”