Couch, Yeast reunite for youth football camp

MT VERNON ­ Operation UNITE has teamed up with former University of Kentucky standouts Tim Couch and Craig Yeast to offer two regional ³Tackling Drugs² football skills camps for students in grades 7-12.

The camps -- to be conducted June 12-13 at Rockcastle County High School¹s football field and June 26-27 at Pikeville High School¹s football field ­will benefit UNITE¹s anti-drug youth programs throughout the region.

Each of the two-day camps, which begin at 10 a.m. and end at 6 p.m., will focus on basic fundamental skills and some advanced techniques for both offense and defense players. Throughout the day participants will receive positive, anti-drug and self-esteem messages.

"We want to have some fun with this camp,² said Yeast, the Southeastern Conference¹s all-time receptions leader when drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1999. ³We'll go through skills and end with an obstacle course the first day. On day two we'll go through combine-style drills and end with a seven-on-seven tournament."

"In the middle of teaching the game of football we want to teach about the game of life,² Yeast continued. ³Everything is not going to go your way. It's how you respond, and how you stand up that, that will make a
difference. That goes along with what Operation UNITE is about."

The football camps were announced by Yeast, a representative from the event¹s primary sponsor -- Friends of Coal/Joe Craft ­ and Operation UNITE during a special ceremony at Rockcastle County Middle School on May 28.

³The future of the coal industry is, in short, interdependent with the
future of Kentucky. That¹s why Joe Craft and Friends of Coal are pleased to stand along with Operation UNITE, Tim Couch and Craig Yeast to support this community,² said Kelly Knight, representing Mr. Craft.

³To us that means safe, drug-free activities for our students, and student athletes learning a little more about football and a lot about life,² Knight continued. ³And last, but not least, having fun.²

Couch and Yeast became widely known across the commonwealth as part of Coach Hal Mumme¹s Air-Raid offense during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

After setting several national records as quarterback for the Leslie County Eagles, Couch went on to rewrite the SEC record books enroute to being named SEC Player of the Year and a Heisman Trophy finalist in 1998. He was the overall top pick in the 1999 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.

He made his first professional start in the second game of his rookie year and proceeded to notch rookie records for passing completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns. Couch would start 59 games during his five-year tenure with the Browns, including leading his team to a playoff appearance in 2002.

Yeast was a four-year starter at UK and a favorite target for Couch. He
played for several years in Cincinnati before going to the New York Jets, where a knee injury put him on the sidelines for a season. Yeast went on to play nearly five years in the Canadian Football League.

Both currently reside in the Bluegrass region and wanted to throw their
support behind anti-drug efforts in southern and eastern Kentucky.

³I am glad to be back in Kentucky and able to support such a worthy cause,² Couch said during an appearance at the Rockcastle County UNITE Bowl last September. ³Efforts by citizens in southern and eastern Kentucky to prevent substance abuse and to help those with addictions are drawing national attention. I feel honored to be able to become a part of the UNITE team.²

³I truly love this area, but hate to see what drugs are doing to families
and communities. It is so important to reach out to youth, to let them know drugs are not the answer,² Couch continued. ³Hopefully the UNITE Bowl will encourage more people to step forward and make a difference by becoming involved with their local UNITE coalition.²

"UNITE's goal is to always reach children with a good, positive message. We want to teach them about making good choices,² said Karen Engle, director of UNITE. ³It's not just about saying 'no' to drugs, but when you do say 'no' you do open the doors to lots of opportunities."

"The kids are tired of seeing their peers make bad choices or seeing their family members die because of drugs," Engle continued. "You're not going to solve this problem by pretending it's not there."

Cost for the camp is $75, which includes a T-shirt, food and drinks.

Other event sponsors include: Field Goal Club - Begley Lumber Company; Extra Point Club - Climax Spring Water, Pikeville Medical Center, Rock Solid Records Management, Rockcastle County Hospital, Shred-All Documents and SouthEast Telephone; and Booster Club - Rockcastle County UNITE Coalition and Utilities Management Group.

Registration forms and additional information are available at or by calling

Former UK and professional football wide receiver Craig Yeast, left,
announces two regional skills camps during a ceremony at Rockcastle County Middle School. Also pictured, from left, are Karen Engle, director of Operation UNITE; RCMS Principal Jason Coguer; Rockcastle High football coach Scott Parkey; and Rockcastle Middle football coach Mike McNabb.

* * * * *
In 2003, Fifth District Congressman Harold ³Hal² Rogers (R-Somerset) worked to create Operation UNITE, a regional anti-drug initiative empowering citizens groups and community leaders in 29 southern and eastern Kentucky counties. UNITE, which stands for Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment & Education, seeks to fight the drug epidemic by expanding drug awareness and education programs to keep people from using drugs; coordinating drug treatment and outreach programs for those who are already addicted; and operating regional undercover law enforcement task forces for interdiction and prosecution of those dealing drugs. Rogers has directed $36.6 million in federal funds to the counter-drug initiative over the past five years. For more information contact Karen Engle toll-free at 1-866-678-6483.

Drug Tip Hotline ­ 1-866-424-4382 / Treatment Referral Line ­
1-866-90-UNITE (1-866-908-6483)


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