Buddy Curry has raised two sons who have played major college football, another who was drafted by a Major League Baseball team out of high school, and a daughter who is a world-class volleyball player.
Still, he insists he has made about every mistake a sports parent can make.
“And I have all the T-shirts to prove it,” Curry joked while speaking to parents at the Kids & Pros football clinic Sunday afternoon at the Bluffton Recreation Center.
Curry, a former Atlanta Falcons linebacker, founded Kids & Pros in 2002 with the help of former Falcons teammate Bobby Butler. The non-profit organization brings camps and clinics combining football fundamentals and character lessons to children ages 7-13 throughout the country. Curry also tries to turn the mistakes he made as a sports parent into lessons he can pass along to others, with many of them pointing toward the same basic idea – get out of the way and let your kids enjoy the games of their youth.
“Your kids need to play for themselves,” Curry said. “Your role is to help them enjoy their game.”
Curry’s relationship with Bluffton resident and former Falcons star Keith Brooking brought the clinic to the Lowcountry for the first time, and both former NFL stars were pleased with the turnout and community support.
Local youth coaches and the Bluffton High School coaching staff teamed up with the Kids & Pros staff to lead position-specific drills, implement USA Football’s “Head Up” tackling technique, and hammer home the program’s core character values of sportsmanship, integrity, teamwork, perseverance, and excellence.
“Football and sports transcend the field or court and make strong people of character,” Curry said. “They help you learn how to be part of a team. Why do your kids need to play football? It’s about learning about life.”
Curry also led an hour-long information session for parents, much of which addressed widespread concerns about injuries, particularly concussions. Dr. George Sutherland presented data pointing to the scarcity of concussions in youth football and showing head injuries are no more common in football than other sports at the youth level and advised parents on how to spot concussion symptoms and what to do if they present themselves.
Curry demonstrated how to properly fit helmets and shoulder pads to help prevent injury, briefed the crowd on new techniques aimed at reducing injuries, and impressed upon parents that caution is always the wisest course of action.
“When in doubt, take them out,” Curry said, asking the parents to repeat the mantra.
Brooking and Curry impressed upon parents that football is violent and dangerous by its nature, but said improvements in coaching techniques and equipment have made the game safer than ever for today’s players. Brooking spent 31 years of his life playing the game and said he “100 percent” would do so again, and both of his sons play.
“If you want to make sure – make 100 percent sure – that nothing happens to your child, then go out there and get them, take them home, lock them up, and hope a tornado doesn’t come,” Curry said. “There’s an inherent risk in everything you do.”