It was a hot and humid Monday morning. Just the way Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis prefers it.
Approximately 130 high school football players, mostly from Broward and Miami-Dade counties, sweated their way through an intense 21/2-hour workout during the first of two days at the Ray Lewis Football Camp at St. Thomas University.
“You always see something different,” Lewis said. “All the kids have different backgrounds. When we finally started to train them, the thing they don't understand is it's all about endurance. It's all about going past the level of fatigue.
“When they start to get it, their effort starts to change. It's not about seeing how much you got left, it's about how fast you can push yourself to that point, and once you get to that point you can go past that.”
Lewis, 37, will give you a first impression that he is fearless, engulfed with intensity once he steps on the football field.
Yet there is more to the former Miami star.
He is an educator of the game, distributing the knowledge and commitment of what it takes to make it to the next level. Lewis will be the first to say it's just not how the athlete performs on the field, but how he prepares off it.
“The difference in this camp is we train for lifestyle,” Lewis said. “Football is the last thing we go over. The bottom line is physical fitness and the things that will keep them healthy.”
During his 16-year career, all with the Ravens, Lewis has 2,586 combined tackles, 40.5 sacks and 31 interceptions in 222 regular-season games. He's also been named to the Pro Bowl 13 times.
“What really brings these kids down to earth is the type of camp we run,” said Lewis. “The world offers too many things that can keep them from being a better person.”
The camp is a combination of football instruction, film breakdown by Lewis and sports performance training, product knowledge and health awareness.
“The goal at the end of the day is to change someone's life,” Lewis said. “That's what my first message is all about: making the right choices, eating the right food.”
The first choice was making the commitment to attend the camp and surviving the hard workout Lewis promised they would endure through two days.
“I know Ray Lewis is a hardworking man, so I wanted to see what the camp was all about,” defensive tackle Maquedius Bain said. “This will help me become more focused on the next mind set.
“This is harder than high school, but he's getting us ready for the next level.”
It was clear Monday that a number of the participants weren't prepared for the intense workout Lewis had in store. Heat took its toll on some, while others dealt with leg cramps.
Lewis pressed hard on a message that was loud and clear.
“Let's grab what that pain feels like and let's go past that,” he said. “That's what these young kids got to start to get.
“My camp is about living a long time. You do see someone walking up and saying little things like, ‘I got it, I get it.' That is the reward.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun