The unique journey of Ravens offensive lineman Ramon Harewood from Barbados to the NFL is something he hopes will be repeated by his countrymen.
Harewood conducted his inaugural 'Big Mon Elite Athlete Development Camp' on the Caribbean island nation this weekend, offering football instruction along with a pair of teammates in wide receiver Torrey Smith and inside linebacker Bryan Hall.
Harewood grew up in Barbados as a track and field athlete who also played rugby and volleyball before enrolling at Morehouse on an academic scholarship after scoring a 1340 SAT score. He was eventually convinced to join the football team. A five-game starter for the Ravens last season at left offensive guard, Harewood was drafted in the sixth round by the Ravens three years ago.
“We had a great camp,” Harewood said in a telephone interview. “We had a great turnout and the kids had a good attitude and put in some excellent work. My main message to the kids was about the recipe for success and the only way to get it done is through hard work with no shortcuts. I wanted to instill that philosophy relating sports to life and doing well in school. Some kids were great at it right away and others had to work at it. For the most part, it was very successful.”
More than 100 children ages 11 to 18 attended the camp, which included football and conditioning drills, introducing the sport to a nation where cricket is the most popular activity.
Harewood was surprised to learn that organized football is now being played in Barbados, a notable difference from his high school days when the sport was something he experienced only through watching NFL and college games on television.
“It's definitely getting popular now,” Harewood said. “When I left for college, football wasn't something people were doing here. I had no clue, but it was probably in the works. It's exciting to see the enthusiasm for football in my country now.”
Harewood invited several teammates, but scheduling conflicts caused many to pull out of the event.
Hall said he received a lot of positive feedback from the budding football players.
“It was definitely a good feeling,” Hall said. “It's been a tremendous experience for me to see a different culture and a different way of living. It's amazing down here, especially the nice weather. It's a culture shock for me growing up in America to come to Barbados and talk about football.
“What Ramon is doing for these kids and how he used football to get an education at Morehouse and hopefully introduce the sport to other kids is awesome. It's incredible. These kids are exciting. It's a new energy and they enjoyed themselves. There's definitely some athletes here, so they got me excited about what they can do.”