Categorized | Sports

Millington’s own blooms into NFL star, seeds planted at Aycock Park

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Hardy camp 1 Hardy Camp 2 Hardy camp 3 Hardy camp 4 Hardy Camp 5 Hardy camp 6 Hardy great block

Briarcrest Standout, Ole Miss Legend, Carolina Panther Pro Bowl Lineman and even The Kraken are some of the names for the special guest in town this past Saturday.
But for those at Aycock Park under the blazing sun, it was native son Greg Hardy Jr. back home in Millington for the 2014 I Go Hardy Camp for boys and girls. Hardy and more than 40 volunteers were working drill stations and activities for the more than 200 children from Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Memphis and Millington in attendance.
“This is big time,” Hardy said. “As we know, a lot of people don’t come back. Even if they do come from here. All around the world, a lot of people don’t come back. It’s important for the kids to see it is possible. I want them to achieve and not settle.”
Hardy hasn’t settled since his SYS Football days with the Millington Trojans. The son of Lan and Greg Sr., developed his skills under the guidance of several coaches in attendance Saturday. And even some of Greg Jr.’s former teammates were on hand to teach the children ranging from elementary age to high schoolers.
“It means a lot to me too to have the guys who I learned how to play the game with out here,” Hardy noted. “That spot right here to that spot over there, over in this corner right here is where I played Bantams. I went all the way to Seniors.
“It’s giving back to everybody, even the parents and the coaches who have come out here,” he added. “This is how it’s done. We have to develop a tradition and good habits. It’s to help the generations to come that things like this are necessary.”
At this year’s camp, under USA Football guidelines, featured girls working with cheerleading coaches. Other volunteers worked on preparing the lunches. Each camp participant left with a goodie bag featuring a T-shirt, Kraken Out rubber bands, Millington Police Department pencil, an autograph from Hardy and an NFL Play 60 certificate.
NFL Play 60 and other sponsors help make the day possible like Quest Protein Bars and VITA Coco. But the camp for children was the brainchild of Hardy.
Lending his name, skills and time to the camp was important to Hardy because he said learning the game as a youth made him the player he is today.
Today Hardy is one of the best in the game ranked as the 53rd best player in the NFL by his peers. With 26 sacks in the last two season, 15 in 2013, Hardy is one of the most feared defensive line in the game today.
“Awesome, I feel great about it,” Hardy said. “The people out here know me, that’s an extra responsibility. Now I have to go our there and prove and show them I deserve to be No. 53 in the league. I have to be even better.”
Hardy said his career and the camp will always be about getting better. The 6’4, 280-pound lineman reached the NFL in 2010 after a stellar career with the Ole Miss Rebels. But even before Ole Miss, the Carolina Panther and Briarcrest Saints, Hardy was a Millington Trojan.
And as long as Aycock Park and Flag City will have him, Hardy will keep the camp he started in 2011 a tradition.
“Every year man throughout my whole career and after that,” he concluded. “The number may change on the back of the jersey, but I hope to keep coming out here to this city and this town and Aycock Park. I hope the kids keep coming out and find out there is something better to do.”

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