Brown and Fluellen strive to improve the camp each year, but this year, the camp will see its most dramatic change yet as Brown and Fluellen will incorporate a cheer and dance camp.
“For Andre and myself, each year we try to make it better and we talk to people who have been to the camp to see what we can do to improve it,” Brown said. “[Having the cheerleading camp] is another opportunity to improve the camp and give back to the community where we were raised and attended school, and to let kids know that, no matter where you’re from, and being from Cartersville, a small town, you still have the ability to be successful.”
“I’m glad we’re doing a cheer camp this year, too, because we’ve always wanted to involve young girls and young women in our community,” Fluellen said. “I’m glad that actually came together.”
Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Brittani Richards will be hosting the cheer and dance camp.
“I’m really excited to be a part of this great event and to have the opportunity to give back to these amazing younger girls,” Richards said in a camp press release. “We will be working really hard but we will have lots of fun at the same time.”
“It was an idea that we’ve had before,” Fluellen said of adding the cheer and dance camp this year. “My wife was the one who actually got the ball rolling because her best friend is Brittani Richards, so she’s been wanting to do it all along. It just kind of worked itself out. They got that part together and it blends together perfectly.”
Registration for the cheer and dance camp will begin at 7 a.m. with the camp running from 8 to 11 a.m. and is for girls ages 5-18. Registration for the football camp will begin at 8 a.m. with the camp running from 9 a.m. to noon and is for boys ages 8 to 18.
The football camp is scheduled to have current and former NFL players, including Sammie Hill (Tennessee Titans), Jason Campbell (Cincinnati Bengals), CJ Mosely (Detroit Lions), Landon Cohen (Chicago Bears), Carlos Rogers (Oakland Raiders), Cadillac Williams (free agent and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer) and Damario Pressley (free agent and former Chicago Bear).
“I look forward to bringing this camp to Cartersville every year,” Fluellen said. “Being able to provide this camp with my longtime friend Ronnie and fellow NFL members is the icing on the cake. We look to not only provide the kids with the unique opportunity to interact with players but stress the importance of working together and perseverance.”
The camp also provides two of Cartersville’s most notable sports figures a chance to reconnect with the community they grew up in.
“For us, it’s our goal to give back to the city we came from. My parents still live there and I still have a bunch of relatives in Cartersville, so for me to be able to do something and be involved in the community, it means a lot,” Brown said. “In the future, I want to see what else I can do to help. I’m on the back end of my career, so that’s something I have to take into account, but as long as I can do it and be there and be a part of the camp, I think we can continue to keep it going.”
Fluellen is entering his seventh season and is a member of the Detroit Lions.
Brown is currently a free agent after playing for the San Diego Chargers in 2013. He is coming off a season in which he ran for 234 yards. He made headlines last year during the Wild Card round of the AFC playoffs when he rushed for 77 yards on eight carries, including a 58-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that sealed a 27-10 victory for the Chargers over the Cincinnati Bengals.
In nine seasons, Brown has rushed for over 5,400 yards.
“For me, I’m just taking it one year at a time now,” Brown said. “Hopefully, I get picked up this year and I can play another year. I still think I can play. I feel good. My body feels as good as it ever has. I feel like I can contribute. As long as I still feel I can play the game at a high level, which I still do, I’m willing to play. I enjoy the game, love the game.”
Brown and Fluellen each were members of the 1999 Cartersville Class AA state championship team coached by Frank Barden. On Feb. 26, Barden resigned from Cartersville after 18 seasons and took the positions of athletic director and head football coach at Stephens County High. This year’s camp will mark the first time Brown and Fluellen will return to Weinman Stadium without their former coach in charge of the program.
“Me and [Barden] had a great relationship. He was somebody who I could call on, regardless if it was about football, but about life in general,” Fluellen said. “I’m really hurt to see him go. I know he made the best decision for him and his family. I’m extremely happy that he got to make his decision the way he wanted to, but at the same time, Cartersville did lose a great coach and a great person.”
“A lot of the things [Barden] did were not statistical. You couldn’t record it. The way he was involved with individuals and helped people along the way away from football, that’s one of your biggest attributes as a high school coach,” Brown said. “On the football field, he did a lot. With the abilities and the personnel that he had, I think he did a great job coaching. I think he enjoyed it, people enjoyed him and, as a former player, we have a great relationship. That’s just something, for a coach to be there 18 years and be able to do what he’s done and have the impact he had on the community, my hat’s off to him.”