Surrey-raised NFL pro Christian Covington arrived “home” last weekend to teach young players the finer points of football.
On Saturday morning (June 30), the 24-year-old defensive end for Houston Texans welcomed a couple hundred kids to a second annual skills camp he hosted at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley.
Guest instructors included fellow NFLers Whitney Mercilus (OLB, Houston Texans), Brennan Scarlett (OLB, Houston), Jake Matthews (OT, Atlanta Falcons), Mike Matthews (OL, Miami Dolphins) and Jennifer Welter, the NFL’s first female coach.
“We have a bunch of great kids out here, and we’re trying to bring a little taste of the NFL to Canada,” Covington said as boys and girls performed a variety of football-related drills while wearing T-shirts given to them at the gate.
Registration was free, and the camp, held in partnership with NFL Canada, sold out in advance.
“This is everything I could have ever dreamed of growing up,” Covington added.
“For me, I was never able to go to camps like this and be around, you know, professional athletes, like, all the time, at football camps like this, so I grew up wanting to be a professional athlete with the intent in mind to, when I go back home, I want to put on events for kids and give back to the community. So this is me just, you know, saying thank-you and giving a little treat to the Canadian youth.”
Covington, son of CFL Hall of Fame defensive end Grover Covington, grew up in the Sullivan Heights area of Surrey, where his family held a party the day he was drafted in May of 2015. He was selected by the Texans in the sixth round.
“I was born in Vancouver, lived in Richmond, lived in North Delta, and eventually made it out to South Surrey — a great place to grow up, but I’m a little biased being a Vancouver College Fighting Irish,” he said with a smile. “At the end of the day, that’s my childhood home (in Surrey) and me and my sisters grew up in that home for many years, and nothing but great memories.”
Last season, the former Rice Owl tore a bicep and was unable to continue playing past Week 8.
“I’m 100 per cent – been a 100 per cent since January, so I’m itching to go, and training camp’s coming up and I can’t wait to hit some people,” Covington said.
“We’ll be spending two weeks in West Virginia, at The Greenbrier, so I’m looking forward to it — get out of the Texas heat for a little bit.”
The Texans were a banged-up bunch last season, and the list of injured players included all-star defensive end J.J. Watt.
“I’m just looking forward to everybody being healthy, that’s my main thing,” Covington said. “We were devastated by a lot of injuries last year, and really that’s the key word for the upcoming season — once everybody’s healthy, just getting back on that field and doing what we know we can do.”