Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph took to the field on Monday to help local kids get out, get active and learn about football. It is part of Pro Camps, which is a company based out of Rudolph’s home of Cincinnati and that is a big part of the reason why he has continued with the event.
He went to these events himself when he was growing up and had the same coaches and event coordinators. His family also has close ties to Pro Camps. The camp director’s mom would babysit him when he was a kid and the camp’s head coach’s dad is great friends with Rudolph’s grandpa.
That tie he has to Pro Camps and the success they have had over the years made putting on this event in Minnesota a ‘no brainer’ for the professional tight end.
“It’s easy for them to get me to do it,” Rudolph said. “When they asked me four years ago if this was something I’d want to do here it was a no brainer. I’ve seen the success that they’ve had as a company and the players they’ve worked with over the years and I’ve never heard a bad thing. Each guy truly enjoys working with them and the product they put out there sells itself.”
This is Rudolph’s fourth year doing one of these camps and he has seen it steadily grow. It started out in Eden Prairie with around 200 kids, which is a good size. But he saw a group of around 400 kids participating in his camp at Hopkins High School on Monday and he is happy that it has caught on as quickly as it has.
He contributes that growth to a mixture of word of mouth, people enjoying themselves out on the field and also the fact that he and his wife Jordan have really cemented themselves in the Twin Cities community. This is his sixth year with the Vikings and both he and his wife are always very involved in community events.
“When something’s run well people are going to want to come out and be apart of it and also, I think, this is my sixth year here and my wife Jordan and I have made this our home and it’s a reason why this camp is here and not back in Cincinnati,” he explained. “So we feel like we’ve kind of established ourselves here and impacting the Twin Cities community is important to us and we’re just glad to see this many people come out and take part.”
While having one professional football player present at the camp is usually a treat for all the kids involved, there was an extra guest this week. Rudolph convinced his quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, to come help out with the event and you could tell he was having the time of his life.
At the start of the camp, Rudolph told all the kids that they have to try and have more fun than Bridgewater does, but he didn’t think that’d be possible.
“When Pro Camps asked me about who would be a great special guest, Teddy was the first name that came to mind,” he said. “The way he’s kind of embraced the community and now the face of our franchise going into his third season, and then the way he is with kids. I told the kids earlier, I challenged everyone of them to have more fun than Teddy and I don’t think they’ll be able to. Just walking over from the other field, I see Teddy in the middle of a group doing pushups. He’s got these kids doing pushups when they lose their competition and he’s right there with them. He’s a great role model for these kids and he’s one of the best quarterbacks in our league, so who better to learn from than Teddy?”
Rudolph brought up the idea of this camp to Bridgewater around February or March, right at the start of the offseason, and he was on board with the idea from the start. Not only did he want to be there to help out all the kids, but he wanted to support his teammate because he knew Rudolph would do the same for him.
“Kyle and I, we’re very close,” Bridgewater explained. “We’re locker neighbors and I couldn’t turn this down. Kyle’s a guy, he’s a loyal guy. If I asked him to come somewhere he wouldn’t hesitate to say yes. It’s pretty good to be out here, what he’s doing is great and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
All the kids present at the two-day camp got T-shirts, autographs and pictures with the two football stars to go along with the experience they gained on the field. Rudolph said that they are trying to teach all these kids about the game of football, but at the end of the day it’s just about making sure everyone has a good time.
“We’ll teach them a thing or two about football, but if they don’t learn anything over the next few days but they have a blast then it was a successful camp,” he said. “It’s even more successful if they can have fun and we can teach them something, so we’re going to try our best to teach them something, but as long as they’re out there having fun then we’re doing our jobs.”