What: Charly Martin Football Academy Fourth Annual Youth Camp
When: 9 to 11 a.m. June 8 to 9. Arrive at 8:30 a.m.
Where: Piedra Vista High School, 5700 College Blvd., Farmington
More info: Football camp is open to all children in second- through sixth-grades. Bring cleats and workout gear. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org with your child's full name, age and T-Shirt size. Kids may show up the day of the camp without prior RSVP, but will not be guaranteed a T-shirt.
FARMINGTON — Charly Martin is living his dream every day. It is a dream he hopes more kids from Farmington are able to share some day.
Martin, 29, is a 2003 graduate of Piedra Vista High School and a professional football player currently under contract with the Seattle Seahawks. With a five-week break between organized team activites and training camp, Martin spends a week each summer in his hometown of Farmington hosting a free youth camp for kids in the Four Corners area. The Fourth Annual Charly Martin Football Academy Youth Camp will be July 8 and 9 at Piedra Vista High.
"There are a lot of amazing things you get to be a part of and partake in as an NFL player, but the favorite stuff for me is being in position to give back to the community, impact the youth and offer something to the place you grew up that wasn't available when you were there," Martin said. "Farmington is where I grew up and learned how to play football, and I want to do what I can to give back and show my appreciation."
Martin is also helping spread the message of the NFL's "Heads Up Football" campaign, which emphasizes teaching coaches and players proper tackling techniques and safe ways to play the sport. The program aims to ensure the well-being of football players for generations, especially as information on head injuries and prevention continues to improve.
"The game has changed, and we hope to keep youth football growing, even with all the health and safety concerns," Martin said. "Every coach in my camp takes a 30-minute course on the Heads Up program the NFL puts on. We are building knowledge in coaches and kids at the youth level to try to build a safer game."
Martin hopes to emphasize fun during the camp and show kids they can get outside and exercise while having a good time. He also plans to teach the values of the NFL's Play 60 challenge, which encourages children to play outside for an hour each day.
The camp has provided invaluable experiences for Piedra Vista players who have helped assist with the camp as coaches.
"Being able to help the kids and be alongside the best wide receiver in the history of Piedra Vista football makes it that much more enjoyable," said 2013 PV graduate Bryson Martinez, who will play wide receiver this fall for Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif.
"(Martin) has given me some great advice and proven that hard work overcomes everything. He really subtly influenced me in the whole recruiting process. The whole time I just remember the advice he gave me. He told me to go where I am wanted, not just where I want to be. I really used that. I plan to be back annually to help with the camp, as long as my football schedule allows it."
Martin said reuniting with PV coachs Jared Howell and Frank Whalen makes the week more special. He added that he is looking forward to having players come back from college to assist with the camp this year.
"It is really fun building relationships with Four Corners coaches and college guys. Jared and Frank have been father figures to me, and they love helping me with the camp. They are on board with what I am trying to do," Martin said. "There are so many different aspects of the game at each level. Any information I can share with anyone to give them a step up on their competition is something I enjoy doing, and I look forward to watching guys go on and succeed at the college level and hopefully professional level someday."
Martin is coming off a career year in the NFL. After signing with the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted rookie out of West Texas A&M in 2009, Martin recorded just one reception in his first three years in the league.
After signing with Seattle in 2012, Martin saw three starts and caught four passes for 42 yards before being assigned to the practice squad after four games with the Seahawks.
"It was a great year. I love being in Seattle and being a part of their organization," Martin said. "Our team had a heck of a run. We fell a little short in the playoffs, ultimately losing to Atlanta, but it was a great year. Personally, for me, I enjoy every day. I am truly living my dream playing football. Getting three starts last year was something I hadn't done in my career. We finished strong and the outlook for this year is pretty exciting."
Martin said watching rookie quarterback Russell Wilson improve throughout the year was the highlight of the season, but one shining moment from the year stands out above the others.
During Week 3's Monday Night Football game against the Green Bay Packers, a last-second Hail Mary pass from Wilson went to the end zone and appeared to be intercepted by Green Bay's M.D. Jennings. After a scrum for the ball in which Seattle's Golden Tate and Martin fought with Jennings for the ball, the NFL's temporary replacement referees ruled it a catch by Tate and a touchdown, giving Seattle a controversial 14-12 victory. It proved to be the last call the replacement officals would make because the NFL settled its dispute with the regular officials the following week.
"It was fun. That whole game was fun. Green Bay is a heck of a football team. It was Week 3, and Russell Wilson led a great two-minute drive. Being on the Monday Night Football stage was already fun, but having the game come down to the last second and as crazy of a play as that was, it is a moment I will always remember the rest of my life," Martin said.John Livingston can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.