Whale Branch’s Delaney hosts camp for kids on his home turf
By Dylan Kerns
SEABROOK – Football, family, and fun — that was the theme at Whale Branch Early College High School earlier this month when former Warriors-star-turned-Tampa Bay Buccaneer Dee Delaney returned to his home turf to host a camp for kids who are standing right where he was not so long ago.
“Y’all get up and cheer for them boys,” Delaney chants, hyping up the future football stars. “Y’all cheer for them, get up, get up.”
Now a cornerback for the Bucs, Delaney didn’t get the chance to flourish as a football player until high school, in large part because there were few opportunities in the area when he was growing up. In fact, Delaney says he attended more baseball camps than football camps growing up, and he’s trying to ensure the next generation has more exposure to high-level instruction in the offseason with his annual event, which drew kids ranging from 6 to 18 years old and fulfilled a longtime dream for Delaney.
“I always wanted to do camps since I was in college,” he said. “I was doing little get-togethers with county teams around here. I always knew that once I’d be able to get to the NFL and get the exposure, I was going to do a big camp.”
Delaney grew up in Gardens Corner, which was an even more remote outpost before Whale Branch High opened, and left children in the farthest corner of Beaufort County with few opportunities. In addition to simply wanting to get on the field and work with young athletes, Delaney also wants to make an impact on a community that means so much to him.
“I love kids,” Delaney said. “I told my wife I want a bunch of kids. She don’t really want a lot. I just love kids — seeing them smile and just giving them something I didn’t really have. Even at a younger age, it’s real good for them to see that, ‘Hey, I know an NFL guy. He lives here where I’m from.’”
Delaney wasn’t the only NFL player who came to Seabrook to impart their wisdom. Delaney brought Buccaneers teammates Chris Cooper, Willington Previlon, and Grant Stuard to share their knowledge and message with the campers, and 8-year NFL safety and fellow Lowco native Ron Parker was also in attendance and said he felt like a kid at heart.
“It was fun, man,” Parker said with a broad smile. “I almost wanted to put some pads and helmets on just being out here with them. Just the energy, man, the energy and the passion that Dee and the kids had out here. They participated, listened, they focused, and, man, they came out here and had fun.”
Delaney and Parker were both somewhat overlooked when it came to being recruited out of high school. Parker attended Beaufort High School and eventually played his college football at Newberry College. He bounced around NFL rosters and practice squads early in his career before becoming a 5-year starter for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Delaney played his college ball at The Citadel before playing his final season at the University of Miami as a graduate transfer and spending brief periods with Jacksonville and Washington in the NFL. He was out of football in 2020 before working his way back in 2021 with the Buccaneers, appearing in 15 games last season.
Delaney put in the work to get back to the NFL for himself and his family, but he’s happy to see the next generation of kids from his hometown reap some of the rewards, too.
“What’s your purpose? What’s your why?,” Delaney says. “And for me, it’s my family, and just seeing all the kids out here having fun man, I just love it.”
Dylan Kerns is a recent graduate of The Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting at Full Sail University. He has been writing about sports since he was 11. When he’s not writing about sports, he enjoys stand-up comedy and being outside. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.