The rewards of coaching have magnified during these challenging times. That was never more evident than last week as we hosted our annual youth football camp at St Johnsbury Academy. We had 32 kids (31 boys and 1 girl) grades 3rd-8th in attendance. Coaches wore masks, wiped down balls and bags, and did their best to maintain social distancing. Kids learned the skills and drills associated with each offensive, defensive, and special-teams position; but, more importantly, they played, they smiled, they had fun with their friends again. The biggest smiles were on the faces of the moms and dads at drop-off and pick-up, seeing their kids so happy again.
My favorite smile of the week was worn by the mother of the one girl who attended our camp. However, her smile did not really shine until the middle of the week. Early days were filled with concern of how her daughter would fit in as the only girl in a football camp. Those concerns were quickly erased when she saw both her daughter’s success on the field as well as how well she fit in with the other kids. Now, Ahna and her mom are looking forward to flag football this Fall. She will be every bit as good as any boy out there and will hit the field with newfound confidence and skill.
Girls like Ahna are the future of football. Hopefully, by the time she reaches high school, girls’ flag football will be a varsity sport. Maybe she will go on to play college flag football, and along the way enjoy all the benefits of character development, team building, and interdependence so integral to the game at every level.
For now, I was just happy to see the smiles on her and her mother’s faces as well as the faces of all the other kids and parents who participated in the St Johnsbury Academy Youth Football Camp. The smell of fresh-cut grass, the warmth of the sun, and the sounds of kids laughing and playing were welcome alternatives to so much of what has dominated most recent days. Best of all, they remind me again of the rewards of this job and the game of football.
Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at firstname.lastname@example.org and share http://www.olineskills.com with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!