ABOUT ANGEL TREE SPORTS CLINIC
Across the country, Angel Tree hosts sports clinics where children of prisoners gain skills in various sports and learn about God's love. Through lessons, drills, and fun competition, kids who might not otherwise have a chance to attend a day camp are treated like champions. It's a unique opportunity for youth of all ages and abilities to learn from seasoned college players and former professional athletes.
In 2005, Prison Fellowship hosted the first Angel Tree football clinic at Stanford University. Prison Fellowship established a partnership with the NFL Alumni Association in 2014 and continued expanding the Angel Tree Sports Clinic program across the country. Since then, Angel Tree has held events for thousands of prisoners' children who might otherwise not have the chance to go to a sports clinic or a similar camp. At an Angel Tree Sports Clinic, kids don’t just build skills—they learn valuable lessons about hard work, perseverance, and overcoming difficult circumstances, from caring coaches and mentors who share their own stories of trials and triumphs. Before the day ends, each child has a chance to hear a message of hope and learn about God's love.
Angel Tree Sports Clinic welcomes superstar coaches like Kenny Clark, Tyrus McCloud, Jay Riemersma, and Sherman Williams of the NFL, and former Olympic figure skater JoJo Starbuck. Angel Tree has presented football, cheerleading, and ice skating clinics, and plans to expand to include additional sports categories.
"My favorite part of the clinic is too hard to choose! I had to get up so early for this, but I’m so glad I came. It was fun, and the coaches were so nice. I can’t wait to tell my dad about it."
—Kelvin, Angel Tree® child in Florida
"I had a parent pull me to the side in tears begging us to come back next year. She said the boys told her on the way home about how they want to do what’s right in the eyes of God. The tears began to flow as she explained how she began losing hope for their future until this clinic."
—Tyrus McCloud, Prison Fellowship field director and former NFL player
"The kids were working with legends. Being around that is extremely inspiring and helps everybody step it up and imagine what could be."
—Ian Brown, M.D., Ph.D., Angel Tree Sports Clinic volunteer and former Stanford University football player
JUSTIN’S STORY: FROM HEARTACHE TO HOPE
"I looked for those other adults and mentors to fill in that role, for me to look up to," explains Justin, whose incarcerated father signed him up to receive Angel Tree Christmas gifts as a child. For years, Justin bore the weight of pain and shame that many children of prisoners feel. Now grown, he knows the impact that encouragement and hope can have on a child's life.
While volunteering at an Angel Tree Sports Clinic in California, Justin met a 7-year-old boy, Alex*, who reminded him of his younger self. Other kids were laughing and playing on the field as Alex waited on the sidelines. Like Justin, he'd never had a chance to throw a football with his dad because he was in prison. He’d never learned the basics of the game and was hesitant to join in the fun. Justin noticed.
Over lunch, Justin told Alex about his own experience of growing up with his father in prison. Alex started to realize that he wasn't alone—and that he had more potential than he’d ever realized. "That was a touching moment,” says Justin, "… a way for him to realize, 'This guy has a similar story that I did and look at him now.'"
*Name changed for privacy