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Chryst’s talk, hands-on efforts capture crowd at Wolvarena

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When Pitt coach Paul Chryst showed up at the Woodland Hills Wolvarena last Friday night to speak at a football camp, no one expected him to stay until dark.
But Chryst was in no hurry to leave.
He spoke to about three dozen young adults with Down Syndrome at the “Camp For The Stars,” capturing their attention with his message of seizing opportunities. Then, when he finished, he stayed for the game.
“And he wasn’t just watching,” said Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Cherpak, who was there along with Woodland Hills coach George Novak and their entire teams. “He was wearing shorts and a T-shirt and he was showing (the players) how to throw, catch and kick.”
The two-day camp, in its sixth year, allows the young adults to mingle and learn from the high school players.
The camp has flourished largely due to the efforts of San Francisco 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, who was born in Homestead and played for Novak and with Cherpak at Steel Valley High School. Tomsula participates in a similar camp in San Francisco, through former 49ers coach Steve Mariucci’s foundation.
Cherpak said Tomsula’s entire family gets involved in all aspects of the camp, and the night turns into a homecoming for him.
Joining Chryst was Pitt’s director of football relations Bob Junko, who gave a 15-minute talk. I’ve been a fly on the wall for some of Junko’s talks to recruits, and, believe me, the man can capture a room.
Also helping out were former Pitt stars Scott McKillop, now a graduate assistant, and Dom DeCicco, who will be in camp this summer with the Minnesota Vikings. 49ers CEO Jed York and former Pitt wide receivers coach Bobby Engram, now with the Baltimore Ravens, have participated in the past.

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