Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Dalvin Cook Provides Inspiration at 2-Day Youth Football Camp

WOODBURY, Minn. – Dalvin Cook hopes to give young people experiences that he didn't have at their age.

Cook's passion for encouraging youth fueled a two-day football camp he hosted Saturday and Sunday at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.

"It was weird for the past two years [due to the COVID-19 pandemic], so getting back with the kids, getting back in the community … no pads, just having fun," Cook said. "Seeing the smiles on the kids' faces, this is what it's all about. Giving back to the youth and showing the next generation there's a future ahead of them.

"I really didn't have anything like this … so this makes my day. Growing up, I didn't have opportunities like this," he added. "So to give the kids opportunities and show them, 'You do have a future. You just have to work hard. Put your head down and just go.' It just puts a smile on my face."

Cook's camp, put on by Celebrity Sports Academy, hosted a broad spectrum of ages and experience levels, and each child wore a branded T-shirt with a purple "Cook" and No. 4 on the back.

"It's different, right?" laughed Cook, who is used to seeing fans wearing his previous number, 33. "To see No. 4 now. … It's different. I'm still getting used to it.

"I've been 33 for the past five years, so it grew on me," Cook said. "I'm grateful for the opportunity I had in No. 33, but this is just another opportunity to show the world who No. 4 really is."

View photos of RB Dalvin Cook's youth football camp held at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.

A Saturday thunderstorm that moved the activities indoors to the gymnasium didn't dampen anyone's spirits, as the campers continued running through drills with their group coaches and had the opportunity to take team photos with Cook.

The Vikings running back sometimes appeared to be having even more fun than the kids; he willingly spent nearly 90 minutes posing for photos, holding up four fingers and encouraging students, "Throw up those 4s, now!"

"It was everything. When you're a kid, you dream of opportunities. You dream of things like this," Cook said. "To have kids looking up to me and to give back, this is a great opportunity just to show who I am."

Saturday's session wrapped up with a message from Vikings Legend Ed McDaniel, who served as "football commissioner" for the camp, as well as a Q&A with Cook.

The 26-year-old fielded a variety of questions from the youngsters, including his motivation to change jersey numbers and when he first fell in love with football. Cook welcomed the chance to tell campers about his older brother, Deandre, who inspired him to start playing at age 4.

"They asked me what's driven me to play football, and I always say my big brother – that's my hero," Cook said. "I'm just carrying on his legacy, that's it."

In addition to the football camp, Celebrity Sports also hosted a cheerleading camp that Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders helped host. Cook took photos with the young ladies, who took part in the Q&A, as well.

Present at Saturday's camp were Woodbury Mayor Anne Burt and Miss Minnesota Rachel Evangelisto, as well as members of the Woodbury Police Department and Woodbury Fire Department.

View the best photos of Vikings CB Kris Boyd from the 2021 season.

And of course, Cook's teammates showed up to support.

Kris Boyd attended Day 1 with Cook, taking the time to meet young people, snap photos and answer questions about his NFL career.

Similar to Cook, Boyd said he wished he'd had a similar experience as a child. He's thankful to have watched his cousin, Curtis Brown, play 2011-13 with the Steelers but hadn't otherwise had the chance to meet an NFL player.

"We didn't have too many players in the NFL who would come back to our high school and speak to us," Boyd said. "And me having that goal to be an NFL player when I was such a young kid, it would have been cool to have someone like Dalvin Cook, Kris Boyd, Adam Thielen come and speak to us – or just show face and chat about anything. If you come to my high school, that's saying something. That's some type of motivation."

"Curtis was probably the closest thing to me, as in seeing someone who was in the position I wanted to be. So I kind of leaned on that," Boyd continued. "But having someone actually come and interact with you … if I was young and saw Dalvin, I'd probably jump on him with a big hug. 'I'm gonna be right beside you one day.' … I love being able to just share energy and putting a smile on someone else's face. I'm blessed to have this opportunity."

Day 2 featured more surprise guests, including Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Alexander Mattison and C.J. Ham, who helped Cook lead the campers through a football skills challenge.

"That's important – just to get everybody involved, have those guys' support," Cook said. "I'd do the same thing for them. I'd give the shirt off my back to those guys, and I know they'd do the same for me. I appreciate them so much."