Bradwell Institute’s football coaches and a few Tiger players spent the week having a little fun with aspiring players at the Liberty County Recreation Department. And while the group was all smiles, cheers and a few laughs, the kids also learned lessons about football.
The Tiger football camp started Tuesday after Tropical Storm Colin forced a one-day delay. The campers made the most of it and were soon looking like seasoned players.
“We’ve had close to 30 kids and I think those are pretty good numbers, considering it was our first youth camp,” Tiger coach Greg Hill said. “Hopefully, this will continue to grow, and we can get all the youth here in Liberty County to come out and participate.”
Hill said the success of the first youth camp means he plans to host them more often, or at least annually. The campers ranged in age from 7 to 14.
“It’s a broad range of ages, but it is good and they are working well together,” Hill said. “They are helping each other and rooting each other on. … I think they’ve developed a bond from being here for a couple of days together.”
Hill said the kids went through a range of activities encompassing every aspect of the game.
“We are putting them through drills that we put our high school kids through,” Hill said. “We start out with agility drills, and then we move into specific drills for offense and defense. It helps them with the fundamentals and learning the game of football.”
Hill said no detail is too small or insignificant. Starting young makes many of the small steps intuitive, aiming to make campers better players in the future if they choose to pursue the sport.
“It’s the little things, and those are the little things you harp on,” he said while showing the kids how to run what he calls a cut-and-ball security drill.
“You have to plant on your outside foot,” he said as the kids demonstrated. “That can be the differencebetween making a move and slipping or making a move and being able to keep going and accelerating.”
The younger children gained knowledge that could help them join an LCRD football team in the fall. Some of the older kids, in middle school, were getting pointers that would benefit their transition to high school play in the future.
Helping the coaches were several BI Tiger players. They offered pointers and ran drills as demonstrations for younger kids.
“Our high school kids really don’t realize just how much the little kids look up to them,” Hill said. “So for them to be out here and helping out with the camp … it’s beneficial for the kids and the players. They (the Tiger players) see that they have to be positive role models because they have these little kids looking up to them.”
A whistle signals the end of a drill, and the group circles around Hill. They yell out a rally cheer as they break things down, grab water and prepare for their next drill. Running toward their water bottles, the kids are drenched in sweat. Yet laughter still breaks out as they wait for comes next.