Blue Devils teaching football, values at camp

Youngsters from throughout the area gathered this week at Maiden High School for the sixth annual Blue Devils football camp.

The camp, which started Monday and concluded Wednesday, features third- through seventh-graders working with members of the Maiden football program, including coaches and players.

Each camper takes a turn playing every position, including quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive and defensive line, linebacker and defensive back.

“In three days, we are limited,” said coach Butch Parker, director of the camp. “We try to teach the fundamentals of every position, so this year, when they go play with whatever team they are on, they will have a head start.”

Several players from the varsity football program, such as quarterback Matt Johnson, also helped with the camp.

“We teach these kids a lot about football getting harder as they get older,” Johnson said. “The only way you get to play is if you do well in school, keep your grades up and show respect to your elders. We tell them that moral values come first. Football is a game of hard work, as well as a game of life.”

Physical fitness is another important topic stressed to the campers.

“We have our trainer talk to our campers about nutrition, rest and taking care of their bodies,” Parker said. “You can’t wait until the morning of the practice or that afternoon to starting drinking water. That needs to be a process. She talked to them about what foods to eat and proper rest, too.”

For many of the campers, they have taken away experiences that will carry with them for a lifetime.

“I learned how to throw the ball, catch it, run with it and coordination,” said camper Walt Blmore. “We’ve learned the joy of the journey is having fun, being a teammate and having respect for the coaches.”

One camper even gained a new idol to follow in the growth of his football career.

“Matt Johnson talked to us about respecting our teachers, don’t talk back to them and school will be much easier,” said camper Andrew Pritchard. “I want to be a quarterback like Matt someday, too.”