IRVING, Texas – The final day of OTAs allowed head coach Jason Garrett the opportunity to watch his players become coaches.
Garrett's used to putting on summer camps, but the Cowboys U high school football camp is special to him in that it involves the entire Cowboys roster at Valley Ranch helping coach 160 underserved student-athletes.
"It's a great day," Garrett said. "I think we all feel privileged to have the jobs and the opportunities we have, both players and coaches. For us to be able to reach out to kids and somehow, someway impact their lives in a short period of time, I think it's a really positive thing.
"I told our players today, these guys really look up to you. These kids are 15, 16 years old, they're all aspiring football players, they know who you are, and we have an opportunity for five hours to somehow touch their lives and make a difference."
Watching how animated the players on the field get, it's tough to determine if the kids or the Cowboys have more fun during the event.
"I'm not naïve enough to think we're going to change them completely," Garrett said. "But maybe something that somebody says or something somebody does might help one of these guys get on the right path. There's some great stories from this camp and from other camps like it where kids reflect back on this kind of a day and say, 'This guy told me that, and I remember that and I started doing that and it really put me on the right path.' I think our players embraced it, the kids embraced it. It's been a really fun day."
It gets competitive, which Garrett enjoys, but it also builds camaraderie among the Cowboys players. Garrett hopes the event can teach the kids both football and life lessons, as the high school players got to ask questions to their Cowboys coaches.
The Dallas Cowboys hosted the 3rd annual Dallas Cowboys U high school football camp for 160 underserved student-athletes.
"It works out well," Garrett said. "We get 10 of these OTAs and we do three of them a week, and this is how we ended up with our players. A lot of teams I've been on, they do a bowling outing or a fishing outing or something like that, and we feel like this is just a win-win across the board – our players working with kids, kids having an opportunity to be around our players, everybody taking advantage of it."
Afterward, select Cowboys players addressed the high school players and offered them some words of wisdom about how to go through life and persevere.
Garrett's put on camps in Texas and around the Dallas area, as well as his annual Princeton camp, but this camp is unique in that it breaks OTAs and involved the whole Cowboys team. This year marked the third annual Cowboys U camp, with high school players getting coached up by some of their football heroes.
"Our players embrace it, they get closer as a result of it," Garrett said. "You see our guys running around the field, high-fiving each other, high-fiving the kids, competing against each other. I think it's a real positive day for so many different reasons."