Beachum camp brings back memories

By Skip Leon
Sports Editor

There’s still something about being around professional athletes that makes me feel a little giddy inside. The feeling came on again Saturday, standing on Blackcat field in the midst of professional football players at the 5th annual Kelvin Beachum Community Football Camp.
Of course, I couldn’t let it show. I’ve been a professional journalist for more than 35 years and I was there to do a job -- take photos and get a story for The Mexia News.
Still, being there led me to reminisce about a scene in the distant past and my first encounter with NFL players.
There was a 12-year-old boy in 1971 growing up in a small town in upstate New York, a town about the size of Mexia. It was an era long before the internet and cell phones and round-the-clock connectivity. The exposure to NFL players consisted of watching them on television on Sunday afternoons and reading about them or seeing their photos in the newspaper.
One day during the spring a newspaper ad stated that two members of the New York Giants would be at White’s Department Store, which was in a mall about 15 miles from my hometown. The boy begged his grandfather to drive him to meet the players.
He stood in line with hundreds of other people. Everybody was given photos of the players and when you got to the table they were standing behind, they autographed the photos -- Carl “Spider” Lockhart, safety, and Tucker Frederickson, running back.

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