NFL receiver Gehrig Dieter returns home for youth camp in South Bend
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - When Gehrig Dieter played high school football at School Field in South Bend, it looked much different than the facility that held his annual youth football camp on Saturday.
"Having a turf field at the high school," he said, "it means a little more because this is where I played my high school games at and had a lot of success here. To have it here on my field is awesome.”
Dieter, a graduate of Washington High School and currently a wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs, drew around 400 kids to his old stomping grounds. Once there, they ran through drills and listened to tips from an NFL player along with local coaches they might one day play for.
“It’s a great honor to have all these people in South Bend support," said Dieter. "We had a lot of generous sponsors to make it a free camp so everyone could come out, have fun, and learn a couple things from me and the great coaches we had out here.”
But beyond the X's and O's, Dieter's overall message has been one of giving that support back to the youth in South Bend.
“I was in their shoes not too long ago and I went to football camps growing up and know the impact it had on me," he said. "Just getting out here, being a positive role model for them, somebody they can look up to and ask questions. Phone’s always on and on me so if they hit me up, I’ll always answer back. Just trying to be a positive influence on everybody.”
Soon, Dieter will have to transition his focus back to pro camp. After two seasons of battling for a roster or practice squad spot in Kansas City, he joined the active roster late in the regular season and stayed on for the Chiefs' run to the AFC Championship.
“Every year I feel like I get more confident," he said. "Confident in the playbook and confident on the field. Knowing I work hard and know everything. That’s the biggest thing. Coaches will deal with the physical mistakes but the mental mishaps are when you get let go.”
But while he hopes to carve out a more permanent spot on a team that will be contending, he knows what it means to have the city of South Bend backing him. Especially the kids.
“It’s just amazing to have this many kids support you and want to be you.”