Every summer, Trigg County’s football program hosts a four-day camp for kids going into kindergarten through sixth grade. Campers are taught positions on both offense and defense as well as proper tackling and blocking techniques.
One may wonder why programs start involving kids as young as kindergarten. Head football coach Coby Lewis says the main reason is to build excitement in kids about football. Not only that, Lewis says that youth camps allow him and his coaching staff to learn names of these young athletes. “It is important to meet these kids as soon as we can, that way we can start building relationships,” Lewis says.
The campers do the same drills that the high school athletes do in practice, and players run the different stations based on their position. Lewis said, “It’s rewarding to watch the high school kids teach the younger kids, because you know they’ve learned what we’ve taught them.”
Campers also enjoy some of the connections that come with participating in these camps over the years. For example, kids who have been going to the football camp since kindergarten but are now too old to attend had the opportunity to go to a camp at Murray State this summer.
Many sports teams offer these youth camps, and high school students who help run them learn some important qualities, too. Senior cheerleader Stephanie Thomas says that helping with the annual cheer clinic gives her experience in working with children, because she wants to be an elementary school teacher. Thomas also says, “Cheerleaders learn leadership through these camps in showing the kids the basics of cheerleading,“
Like Thomas, some student athletes remember going to a camp when they were younger. She said, “I thought I wanted to be a cheerleader, but after my first camp I knew that was the sport I wanted to do.”
Senior girls basketball player Mallory Mize had a similar experience and remembers being one of two girls at a basketball camp with 30 boys. She was excited to help run the first girls basketball camp this year and was able to help give young campers at Trigg County the experience she wished she had. Mize went on to say, “We definitely learned patience when working with so many young kids, but I had fun, and I think the other players did, too.”
To build a successful program for the future, coaches must start gaining young kids’ interest early. Many programs have hosted these camps for many years, and it is paying off now. In fact, the football team is starting to get the players who went to the camps in elementary school. The whole camp experience is a chance for campers to have fun and learn about the sport they wish to play. It is also a great way for players and coaches to give back to the community who support them throughout the season.
Comments on Mason Shelton’s “From The Sidelines” column may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.