The football field at Patrick County High School (PCHS) was a hub of activity on Saturday as experienced players, coaches and others shared their love of football during the Patrick County Youth Skills Camp.
PCHS Head Coach David Morrison welcomed the 25 youth football players for a morning of drills, instruction, fun, and “to share the love of football” with the youngsters ranging from third to eighth grade participating in the July 30 camp.
Other PCHS coaches and members of the Cougar Varsity team led the campers, along with visiting players from Reagan High School in Pfafftown, N.C. Among those were Sam Pendleton, who will play college football for the University of Notre Dame; and Semaj Turner, who will play for Duke University.
Sam’s mother, April Pendleton, said it was “important as a football family to help grow the sport.” With other sports now competing for kids’ attention, getting them interested in football through camps like this one is important.
Morrison said, “we just want to build the game of football throughout the county,” and to “get them involved, get them active, teaching them healthy lifestyles, some ways to work out, and get a little better.”
But there was more being taught than just football.
As the participants work on their football skills, they will learn “there’s a lot of crossover in the game of football with a lot of
other sports,” said Morrison, adding, “we want to give the guys out here an opportunity to have some good fun on a Saturday morning.”
While the camp attendees received help with their football skills, another group was busy learning valuable lessons they can use on and off the gridiron.
“We always try to have our juniors and seniors involved” in the camp, said Morrison. “It gives them an opportunity to give back. The kids have seen some of the guys in school, or know their siblings, so just having them around is really big for them.”
While the current Cougar players can help and be role models for the younger players, that is only half the story.
The players learn to “give back and take more responsibility for their actions,” said Morrison, while watching his team help the campers through various drills. “They learn how to interact with kids, they learn to teach, and how to be patient when they need to be. There’s so much good that comes out of it on both sides, so it’s great.”
The fun the campers were having was evident to onlookers, as was the joy experienced by the Cougar players, who high-fived and shouted encouragement in their roles as coaches for the day.
The campers competed in events that tested their speed, strength, agility and jumping. Overall winners at each grade were awarded new footballs, with certificates going to the top three.
April Pendleton said that organizers hope to have another camp in 2023, because it is important to continue growing the sport locally and encouraging the youngsters to continue playing the game.