Georgetown, KY – The Team Focus camp that began Sunday and ended Tuesday (June 21) at Georgetown College is the fulfillment of a commitment Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari made a year ago to longtime friend Mike Gottfried, a former football coach and ESPN analyst.
A comprehensive, year-round community and outreach program started by Gottfried and his wife, Mickey, in 2000, Team Focus provides fatherless young men (ages 10-18) with life skills and a mentor relationship. The Calipari Family Foundation for Children made this first camp at GC’s East Campus and Thomas & King Conference & Leadership Center possible and has committed to five years. Rocky Alt, the national director for Team Focus, said Wednesday that next year’s camp at GC is likely to run four days.
Bill Baldridge, director of the Georgetown camp for this Alabama-based national organization, had two stints with Tiger football – 1973 under Coach Tom Dowling and 1981 as head coach. After that season he followed his friend and roommate at Morehead State to the University of Cincinnati where Gottfried was head football coach.
Baldridge was an assistant football coach again to Gottfried for the 1983 season at Kansas University – the same year that a young Calipari was a Jayhawk assistant basketball coach to the legendary Larry Brown.
Below, read more in a story that appeared last week in the Georgetown News-Graphic:
By Elizabeth Worster
From learning how to tie a tie to what to say in an interview, there are many things a young man learns from a father, and not having that support can make growing up hard.
On Sunday, Team Focus, a support group for males 10 to 18 years old without a father figure, will begin at Georgetown College. The camp will last until Wednesday. This is the first year for the program, which is free.
“It’s really a great camp because it’s leadership,” said Bill Baldridge, former football coach at Morehead State University, who is running the Georgetown camp. “We try to teach them manners, values, how to use a knife and fork and how to tie a tie.”
Throughout the year, the young men who will attend the camp will have support and will be able to experience events such as a college football and basketball game, a Christmas party, a mini-camp and special events.
“It’s a yearlong program,” Baldridge said. “If they are in activities, we go to their activities, like how a father would be there. We try to mentor. There are a lot of lessons to be learned and the big thing is we are there for them to feel wanted and feel like someone is behind them.”
The program started in Mobile, Ala., by Mike Gottfried and his wife, Mickey, based on the former football coach’s own life experience. Gottfried lost his dad when he was just 11 years old.
The first camp was held in 2000. Since then, camps have spread to 14 states. They are run by former and current football and basketball coaches.
The camp at Georgetown College is sponsored by University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari.
Campers will spend their nights on Georgetown’s campus. Rules govern what participants wear during camp activities; jewelry is prohibited. The campers walk to every activity.
During the camp, participants will have use of east campus and the Thomas and King Leadership and Conference Center at Georgetown College as well as the Georgetown Church of the Nazarene.
“It was intriguing to me because I think it is a great thing,” said Bill Cronin, head football coach for the college. “In society today, we underestimate how many kids are really in that situation and don’t have that role model in their family. I met a few of the kids who have been through the camp and have been impressed with them.”
After the camp is over, parents can stay in touch with camp representatives through a website called Focusbook.
“We have about 1,200 members,” said Rocky Alt, director of operations for Team Focus. “It’s been a real blessing. We stress education, we stress leadership and how to overcome peer pressure and bullies. We teach them how to become a man at home. It sets the tone for what our organization is about and hopefully sets the tone for their goals and aspirations.”
Statistics bear out what can happen because of a lack of guidance. Baldridge said 93 percent of young men in prison do not have a male role model at home.
“Most of them carry with them some anger, not so much as their dad died but they don’t want to be a part of their life,” Alt said. “What we do is try to overcome that anger and give them a positive outlook on life.”