Former NFL coach and part-time Ocean Shores resident Dana LeDuc, his wife, Mary, and a lot of friends are always busy this time of year, more or less consumed with a project that has taken on a life of its own as it has become a labor of love that helps more and more kids throughout Grays Harbor each year.
Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14, they will host the eighth annual Grays Harbor Youth Athletics Benefit and Youth Football Camp.
A Tacoma native, and national champion collegiate shot-putter in 1976, LeDuc became a ground-breaking strength and conditioning coach with the Universities of Texas and Miami, then the Seattle Seahawks. He moved to the St. Louis Rams in time to be part of their 1999-2000 Super Bowl winning team and since 2012, he has called upon a variety of his football friends each year to be the star attractions for a weekend that both produces and funds the LeDucs’ annual gift to the community.
They’ll hold a golf tournament at 11 a.m. Saturday at Ocean Shores Golf Course, followed by a silent auction beginning at 4:30 p.m. and dinner with live auction at 6 in the Ocean Shores Convention Center. Both venues offer folks the chance to play, chat and mingle with current and former NFL and college coaches and players, and current area high school coaches.
With the fundraising Saturday paying the bills, Sunday will be spent working at a free football camp at Hoquiam High School Stadium, open to all area students who are entering grades 7-12.
The program has grown from 50 kids the first year to 220 in 2018, including four girls. LeDuc expects as many as 250 young athletes, trainers and managers this year. The program also donates to various athletic projects at several area schools.
LeDuc is thrilled to talk about how his friends help to make the project possible. “Last year, 18 of the 32 coaches were current or former NFL players or coaches and they wore 15 different Super Bowl rings,” he said. “These coaches donate their time for this camp and many who have to fly in to Washington do so at their own expense.”
He added that, in addition to just “coaching on the field,” they also “coach life skills. Each coach tells personal stories of how they overcame obstacles to get to where they are now, gives advice on being successful students, athletes, and community members, and provides suggestions to develop skills that will be useful throughout their lives.”
LeDuc has another all-star lineup planned for this year, including:
Kenneth Sims, the first pick in the 1982 NFL draft, who will speak at the dinner about his personal journey from Kosse, TX, population 550, to NFL stardom with the New England Patriots.
Fellow Rams Super Bowl coaches, John Ramsdell, QB coach for Kurt Warner, Phillip Rivers and Cam Newton, and Jim Hanifan, offensive line guru currently up for HOF membership.
Rob Smith, “one of greatest players ever out of Hoquiam,” former head coach at Western Washington University and longtime head coach at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA.
Art Plunkett, a new Ocean Shores resident who played for the Patriots in the Super Bowl against the Chicago Bears.
Craig Puki, a University of Tennessee two-time All American who played for the San Francisco 49ers when they won Super Bowl XV.
Doug English, an NFL veteran and college football HOF member.
LeDuc also revealed that “several guys will be reunited here that haven’t seen each other in 20-30 years. I love to see these guys reunited, tell stories, there’s so many things they have in common. We all have a lot of fun!”
To further facilitate the effort, the LeDucs created a registered non-profit charity, Grays Harbor Youth Athletics, in 2015. This year, the couple announced that the Dana and Mary LeDuc Grays Harbor Youth Athletics Scholarship Fund, which will award two $1,000 college scholarships to camp attendees. The first year’s recipients will be announced at the dinner.
Tickets for the golf tournament are $110 and include cart, dinner, auction, an official camp T-shirt and invitation to watch the camp. Each team of three golfers will be paired with one of the coaches, and anyone can sign up for the golf tournament by contacting the Ocean Shores Golf Course, phone: 360-289-3357, email: OSGC@msn.com.
For non-golfers, tickets for the dinner and auction are $35 and may be purchased at the Ocean Shores Convention Center, phone: 360-289-4411. For more information, call Alison Cline at 425-359-2133, Jeremy McMillan at 360-532-5270, or Dana LeDuc at 314-623-0308.