NFL linebacker Sio Moore gained hundreds of new young fans who see him as a role model as he heads into his second season with the Indianapolis Colts this fall.
On July 16, the Apex High School graduate held his first Reach Four Moore football camp, which attracted more than 500 children from 11 states and all walks of life to the North Main Athletic Complex in Holly Springs. Besides teaching football, Moore sought to inspire the children and instill in them leadership and character-development skills.
“I thought it was powerful,” said Moore, 26, after the event. “I thought it was a movement. I thought it was a blessing. I thought it was humbling. I thought it was everything that I could have seen happening at my first camp, plus a thousand more things.”
Children crowded the complex’s baseball and soccer fields, executing drills for hours and participating in seven-on-seven football games alongside NFL players, including Jamie Collins of the New England Patriots and Ray-Ray Armstrong of the San Francisco 49ers, who helped coach the second- through 12th-graders.
Moore circulated among the different age groups demonstrating drills, offering advice and being a friend. The camp brought adults and children of all nationalities together to create leaders and inspire goal setting and teamwork.
Hundreds of volunteers, police officers and others also joined in. Officers also helped pass out water to tired and thirsty kids.
“I saw police officers taking part in the seven-on-seven, throwing the ball to second-graders,” said Moore, who was born Snorsio.
And everyone was smiling.
At one point, Moore told a child to do 20 push-ups when he did not complete a drill correctly. One by one, the other kids in his group dropped to the ground with him.
“Fifty kids got down and struggled with another child because he was struggling, so that he didn’t have to struggle alone,” Moore said.
Moore also shared lessons on accountability, individuality, adversity and anti-bullying.
“We got everybody to look at each other completely equally,” he said. “So it tells me that it’s not impossible.”
Moore will take these memories back to Indiana with him when he begins training camp on July 26.
After he graduated from Apex High, Moore went to the University of Connecticut on a full scholarship before being drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2013. He played in California until he was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in September 2015. He did not start for the Colts his first year but is determined to change that.
“This is my year,” he said. “I’ve got kids now. I’ve got people to lead.”
Moore’s plans come a year after he had to relearn how to walk following three lower body surgeries due to an injury.
“That was my biggest test in figuring out if I want what I truly want I actually have to go and do the work to get there,” he said. “It’s not gonna happen by nobody else but myself. I’ve purposely stepped into a new phase of my life now. The days where I was a rookie trying to learn my own steps, trying to realize what I could do and all that, those days are done because I know what I can do.”
Before being drafted into the NFL, Moore faced several other struggles, including some academic ones, that he had to overcome to succeed in the league. Role models like his coaches, mother and sister helped him overcome these challenges so he could earn a full scholarship from the University of Connecticut.
Now, Moore wants to be that role model for today’s children.
At Saturday’s camp, sixteen-year-old Michael Croom and 15-year-old Omar McBride said they enjoyed meeting and working with the NFL players, as well as participating in the drills and learning from Moore.
“It’s hype,” McBride said.
Giving to the community
The camp generated donations for local charities: Bob’s Buddies, a Raleigh-based foundation that helps kids with pediatric brain tumors; Meg’s Smile, a Holly Springs-based nonprofit that provides special days out or gifts to North Carolina children affected by serious illnesses; and the Holly Springs Food Cupboard.
The Holly Springs Food Cupboard collected $200 and more than 1,200 pounds of food.
Moore credits friends like his former coach Richard Young and friend Troy Menges for helping him put together the camp in just over 70 days. They will continue to help him organize more events in the future, like a breast cancer awareness event in North Carolina in October.
“There was teamwork in every facet of the camp, whether it was from the staff or the volunteers, the coaches, the players,” Moore said. “I think that’s what we created, and that’s what we are going to continue to cultivate.”
Even though Moore spent most of the day teaching the children important lessons, they taught him something as well.
“If you put a goal in front of children and force them to reach it, they will surpass it every time,” Moore said. “If you give children something to reach for, they’re gonna look for something else to reach for more.”
Organizers hope the Reach Four Moore camp will be an annual event. Young said the number of participants at future camps would need to be capped, but it may become a multi-day event. Moore hopes to include an emphasis on more types of activities like cheerleading and dance.
He also wants to continue to spread his message of reaching for more across the country.
“I just think there’s not a lot of words you can put toward it because it is an emotion,” he said. “It is a feeling. It is love. It is what life is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about love and bringing people together.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon