Free football clinic honors fallen Northeast star

The Rhawnhurst Athletic Association will be held in honor of Kenny Kline, and will feature his two favorite things: football and fun.

Jameel McClain, who starred at George Washington High School and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, talks to campers at the Kenny Kline Football Camp last year. PHOTO: ANTHONY ROME

Kenny Kline loved football.

He loved watching it, he loved playing it and he loved coaching it.

So it’s fitting the Rhawnhurst Athletic Association will hold a football clinic to honor his memory.

The Kenny Kline clinic will be held May 21 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Rhawnhurst Athletic Association, 2138 Solly Ave.

Kline, a 2010 graduate of Northeast High School, died in 2011 after a motorcycle crash. He was 18.

His friends and family continue to keep his memory alive, and the football camp is one of their favorites.

“I coached Kenny, and he was so happy when he was around football,” said Anthony Rome, who coaches football at Rhawnhurst and Olney Charter High School. “He was so passionate about football, and dedicated. He took it so seriously.”

The clinic is about two things Kline loved: football and fun.

“It’s a fun day, it’s the kind of day Kenny would have loved,” said Kenny’s father, also named Ken Kline. “He loved being around the game.”

This year will be the sixth straight Rhawnhurst has held the event in Kline’s memory. And the event has gotten bigger each year.

Last year, the guest of honor was 2003 George Washington grad Jameel McClain, who played at Syracuse and then won a Super Bowl while playing for the Baltimore Ravens.

This year, in attendance will be 2002 Washington grad Ryan Gore, who started four years at Temple University, and Dominique Curry, a 2004 graduate of Washington who played for the St. Louis Rams and the Carolina Panthers.

These men, much like Kline did, volunteer their efforts to help the next generation of football players.

“When Kenny was coaching, I think he did so well because the kids looked up to him and he was so passionate,” Rome said. “He was young, he was only coaching one year before he died, but he played here and then did great in high school. The kids knew him and they liked learning from him because they knew he was a great player.

“Kenny loved the kids, too. He wasn’t doing it long, but you could tell he really liked it and he was good at it. He was really helping the kids, and he was doing something he loved to do.”

The same can be said of McClain, Gore and Curry.

Rhawnhurst has a lot of coaches who teach their players all year, but according to Rome, it’s nice when you can have special guests pass on their words of wisdom.

Doing it in honor of Kline just makes it a win-win situation.

“Last year, watching the kids learn from Jameel was so much fun for me and so much fun for the kids,” Rome said. “He’s great with kids. Two years ago, we had players from Temple and they were great. And Ryan and Dominique are special guys. They are so helpful. I know they’re looking forward to it.

“The entire day is nice. It’s such a family atmosphere. We have all the kids here and the players, but then so many people who played for Rhawnhurst come back. Guys who are in high school. Guys who are playing in college. We have all kinds of people come back. It’s one of the best days we have.”

And while the football camp can be strenuous, that’s not what people who sign up for this should expect. Kids can expect to learn, but they can also plan on having fun.

“We’re not going to push these kids really hard, it’s supposed to be fun and it’s supposed to help them get better,” Rome said. “Usually, we’ll break it up into two sessions. We’ll start with defensive drills. Then one of the guys will talk. Then we’ll do offense and then we’ll have the other guy talk. It’s about learning and it’s about having fun.”

Following the camp, kids will receive a hot dog and water.

“We want this to be fun,” Rome said. “It’s in Kenny’s memory. He never liked the spotlight, but we like to do this because it keeps his memory alive.”

The sentiment is appreciated.

“Kenny would definitely love it,” his father said. “Kenny enjoyed coaching. He was a good kid. He enjoyed being around the game and he liked coaching the kids. I think he would love this event.” ••

Boys ages 5 to 14 are invited to the camp, and registration begins at 9 a.m. on May 21. There is no cost to attend. For more information, visit the Rhawnhurst Athletic Association’s Facebook page.