Malik Norman is soaking up more than the sun at Eureka College.
The Homewood-Flossmoor graduate is enjoying every moment in camp as he and his East teammates prepare for Saturday's 37th annual Illinois Coaches Association East-West Shrine All-Star Football Game. Game time is 6:30 p.m. at the Peoria Public Schools Stadium.
"It's an honor to be selected and to be able to play in the game," Norman said. "It's a rare opportunity to play with and against top players from all over the state. I always wanted to do it."
Norman, who will take his talents to Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College in a few weeks, said he loves the four-day camp, even the workouts.
"I am meeting other players who I might not have the chance to meet," Norman said. "It's been a good time."
Norman rushed for 1,035 yards and scored 37 touchdowns on the ground and in the air as the Vikings, under coach Craig Buzea, came within one win of playing for the Class 8A state title. H-F fell to Mount Carmel.
"That was tough because we wanted to go all the way and we almost did," Norman said. "We had a great season and I think running track my last two years (of high school) really helped with my explosiveness."
Wednesday, Norman and his teammates visited the Shriners Hospitals for Children on Chicago's West Side. The bus trip from Eureka was worth it. Norman spent time with kids who may never accomplish what he has or will, but in his eyes, they have accomplished a lot.
"They are making the most and doing a lot despite their disabilities," Norman said. "One guy plays five different instruments and another is a body builder. They didn't give up though they may have been dealt a not-so-good hand."
Norman said he spent some time playing air hockey with a girl who had a spine injury.
"It was lot of fun and we talked and you could see they were looking up to us," Norman said. "It made me think to want to go out and do good in everything and be grateful. These kids may not have talent we do, but they still go about and are just great people.
"It makes me want to go out and set an example in anything I do. We are blessed with a certain (athletic) ability and we are really lucky."
Norman is hoping to not only have a good two seasons at Grand Rapids, but to play Division I football. Anyone who saw him play knows he has the talent and the heart.
At 5-foot-6, he knows he has to be a little better, a little faster to draw the attention of a major program.
He already has the passion and an understanding of how fortunate he is to have the opportunity to play college football.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at email@example.com.