Edgerrin James' annual youth football camp in Immokalee canceled

Edgerrin James and some of his famous football friends won’t be returning to his hometown this summer. At least not for the former NFL star’s annual youth camp.

Because of renovations to the fields where the event is held, the Edgerrin James Speed and Agility Youth Football Camp has been canceled. James was schedule to host the free camp, which included more than 1,000 kids last summer, for the fourth straight year Monday in Immokalee.

The Immokalee Sports Complex, home to the camp the past three years, needed to restore its fields this summer to repair normal wear and tear. The complex laid down thousands of dollars of new sod, and the grass won’t be set and ready for action until August.

With the fields not ready to go, the Edgerrin James Foundation was forced to cancel the football camp.

“We were really looking forward to it,” said Karen Mingo, project manager of James’ foundation. “We were ready to go. Unfortunately we will not be there this year, but we have plans of going back next year.”

James first hosted the camp in 2009 in his hometown, where he graduated from Immokalee High School in 1996 before playing running back for the University of Miami and in the NFL for 11 years.

The summer camp has grown the past three years, which included James bringing in children from as far as Orlando to take part. More than 900 kids took part in the free camp in 2010 before the camp set a record with last year’s attendance.

“Anytime kids get to play football, it makes them better,” Immokalee High football coach Jerrod Ackley said. “Any missed opportunities are disappointing … but things change, and it’s something you have no control over.”

In the past James has brought former and current NFL players with him, including his cousin and fellow Immokalee grad Javarris James. Former Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis was at the camp last year, and NFL super agent Drew Rosenhaus came in 2010.

The Immokalee Sports Complex didn’t run the camp, which also included a cookout and pool party at the center, but let James’ foundation use the fields. Supervisor Derrick Dimas said it was disappointing the complex’s fields won’t be ready, but the repairs needed to be done.

“(The fields) were real bad,” Dimas said. “There were a bunch of holes, and we had to get them done for the safety of the kids. They just couldn’t be ready in time for the camp.”

James is in Orlando this summer hosting his foundation’s Youth Summer Camp for a third consecutive year. The day camp goes Monday to Thursday all summer and is free for kids ages 6 to 18.

Javarris James signed with the Arizona Cardinals this summer and might have missed the summer camp in Immokalee to attend training camp, which begins Tuesday.

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