Returning home is always enjoyable for New Orleans Saints running back and Olathe native Darren Sproles. Its where he has a strong and enthusiastic fan base. And its where everything started, he said.
By REBECCA FITZGERALD
The Kansas City Star
And now, Sproles is even more thrilled to be coming back to his home state.
Kansas State brought home three championships in the 2012-2013 academic year, including its third football title. It was K-States first since 2003, when Sproles led the Wildcats in his junior year.
It was good to see us back on top, Sproles said. He added that it feels good to hear the Wildcats thrown into the discussion of best college teams when hes around his NFL teammates.
Sproles hasnt been on the K-State campus in four years, although he visits Kansas every year. He remains in contact with coach Bill Snyder and last spoke to him about a month ago.
Sproles said Snyder helped him as an individual and a football player.
He was real strict on us, Sproles said. I think that was good because now when you leave that program, youre on time, stuff like that, it was like little things. That was real big with him.
Those little things are some lessons that Sproles and his wife, Michel, now teach to teenagers at the Sproles Empowered Youth Boys Camp in Olathe.
Both athletes Michel ran track at the University of Nevada Las Vegas the couple felt they hadnt learned about another aspect of sports while growing up: life skills.
We missed a lot of that in the traditional school systems so thought it would be cool to start an organization that the guys can learn the fundamentals of football, but also learn financial literacy, health and sex education, business education, Michel said.
At the camps, teenagers learn how to complete job and college applications and create résumés.
We really wanted to kind of add that dimension to sports as well because its just not about sports, she said.
Sproles and Michel founded Sproles Empowered Youth in 2010 and host annual camps and a 5K run, which will take place July 6 at Southcreek Office Park in Overland Park.
The Boys Camp began Wednesday and will conclude Saturday at Avila University. The Girls Camp will incorporate discussions on health, fitness, image and age-appropriate fashion and makeup. It is slated for July 31-Aug. 3 at San Diego State University in Michels home state and now, the Sproles familys hometown.
The Sproles are looking to expand their foundation beyond the Olathe and San Diego communities that helped shape the couples lives, Michel said. They hope to provide additional boys camps in San Diego and New Orleans to include all of the communities where the family resides.
The Sproles will stay in Kansas for a few weeks before training camp begins July 24 in New Orleans.
Sproles outlook on the upcoming Saints season is positive: Were just going to try to take it game by game this year, but we want to win thats the only expectation we can have is win.
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