- Erik McKinney, ESPN Staff Writer
Kurt Warner found plenty of success during his NFL career as a quarterback for the St. Louis Rams, New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals. He was twice named the NFL MVP, earned a Super Bowl MVP award and was named to three Pro Bowls, so it was little surprise that the first-ever Amway's Nutrilite SoCal Selects QB Camp was such a success.
Warner was the featured speaker at the event -- hosted by renowned quarterback coach Steve Clarkson at Los Angeles Cathedral High School -- and provided three hours of teaching on everything from reading defenses to proper nutrition. He spoke to roughly 50 quarterbacks, ranging from 7th to 12th grade, about overcoming obstacles on and off the field and how to work toward bettering themselves in all aspects of life.
"I think the message we're trying to take to these young kids now is that if this is your goal, you have to do everything," Warner said. "You have to take it all in. You have to push yourself in areas that may not be the most fun for you or you may not be the best at. But you need to couple those with your physical skill and that's what gives you the opportunity to get there."
Warner's speach to the quarterbacks hit on his three main points: Failure is not a destination, but an opportunity. Don't let anyone else write your destiny. And be great at everything you do.
It hit home with plenty of the attendees.
"Kurt Warner's speech struck home because I know exactly what he's talking about with everything," La Canada (Calif.) St. Francis quarterback Jared Lebowitz said. "He's obviously had much more experience facing adversity, but a lot of that stuff was really good to listen to."
Warner also took the time to diagram several plays and break down progressions and how to read opposing defenses. Los Angeles Salesian quarterback Jihad Vercher was front and center.
"I was starstruck for a minute, but you have to listen to the man," Vercher said of Warner. "He won a Super Bowl and he was a man amongst boys in the NFL. He knows what he's talking about and his mindset on football is something you want as a quarterback in high school going into college."
Before hitting the field for some one-on-one instruction, Warner answered questions from the quarterbacks and their parents. They ranged from what the Super Bowl experience was like, to his height, to his faith, to what is expected in terms of leadership from the quarterback position.
"I've always admired Kurt Warner since I was young," Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy quarterback David Sills said. "We have an autographed jersey of his in the basement and he's always been a role model to me. It was good having him out here teaching us."
Warner said he tries to stress finding success on the field as well as in life during these events, as he acknowledged that in a room of 50 young quarterbacks all around the same age and all with NFL aspirations, that goal is unlikely to happen for everybody.
"The first message is always take what you can learn from the game of football -- the lessons it can teach you--and become a well-rounded person of character," Warner said. "The second is that if you really want this, understand what it takes.
"The farther you go, the more you understand that the physical part of the game is important, but it's not nearly as important as the mental side of it. Being able to handle pressure, being able to have the character to get through the highs and lows, and more than anything, the mental side of understanding what you're looking at, especially from a quarterback standpoint. I don't think people take that seriously enough, especially in the early stages."