Soldiers Mentor All-American Players

SAN ANTONIO -- Army recruiters work hard at finding ways in which the Army can launch a young man or woman's future. But how does a recruiter mentor a top-notch high school football player whose career is nearly set?

Corpus Christi recruiters Staff Sgt. David Camarillo and Staff Sgt. Charles Hoskins were selected to participate as Soldier Hero mentors to two of the 90 All-American Bowl football players this week. They won't be explaining how the Army can pay for college or how the Army can shape their lives.

Instead, the noncommissioned officers will take in the high school seniors as one of their own and share life stories with the up and coming football stars.

"The Army can still be a part of his life," said Camarillo of Kylie Fitts, the player he was paired up with for the week. "He's a squared away young man with a bright future but we have leadership principles that he can learn."

The Army instills values and develops leaders. Those are qualities Fitts can still hone, said Camarillo.

As an infantryman who served two tours in Afghanistan, Camarillo said he hopes to share some of his leadership insights with Fitts, a senior at Redlands East Valley High School in San Bernardino, Calif.

Fitts has limited experience talking with Soldiers so for him to meet and have dinner with Camarillo was a treat. He got to ask questions about rank structure, duty stations and deployments.

"We've both worked very hard to get where we are at but I still hope to learn things from him that can help me in the future," Fitts said.

Hoskins said he was impressed with Kenny Bigelow, not just for his athletic prowess, but for his initiative in asking all the important questions most young men in high school neglect.

"The only thing I have to advise [Bigelow] is to stick to his plan," Hoskins said. "Make sure nothing falls through. Don't get caught up with the college lifestyle."

Bigelow had never met a Soldier, so this was his opportunity to dig into Hoskins.

"I asked what led him to join the Army and what were some of things he did before," said Bigelow, the Eastern Christian Academy senior from Elkton, Md. "I told him that I honestly don't think I could ever do the things he's done. I give him nothing but the utmost respect."

As All-American defensive linemen Bigelow, on the East Team, and Fitts, on the West Team, prepare to play against each other in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Jan. 5, Camarillo and Hoskins will root for opposing teams. But the Soldiers said they will be rooting for the All-Americans long after the game is over.

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