Archived Story

Preparing the stars of tomorrow: Former, current athletes hold annual weekend football camp for youths

Published 12:41pm Tuesday, January 1, 2013

By Ed Bailey

This past weekend, past and present names of local high school football lore returned to their old stomping grounds to prepare youths to follow in their footsteps.
Martevious Young and Michael Goggans, co-directors at the Cooper Recretational Center, held their second annual youth agility and football camp at the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex.
Young and Goggans were assisted by former and current players Alexander City and surrounding areas.
Joining Young and Goggans were Benjamin Russell High School alums Cameron Blankenship and Trey Bennett, current BRHS player Quez Alvies, and former Friday night stars Michael Blakenship, Tobias Russell, and Bobby Tapley.
The camp lasted for two days, and kids who participated were able to learn from former and current players the finer points of improving agility and comprehension of skills.
“With the kids being out of school for Christmas, it gives them something to do,” Young said. “Last year we did it before Christmas and we figured that we’d try to do it again after Christmas.”
Young said that he, Goggans and those who assisted in directing the drills were impressed by the go-getter nature of the kids who came out to participate.
“The kids that came out here did work,” he said.
The turnout was predominantly comprised of youth athletes, according to Young. The coaches guided the kids through various drills like the cone, short shuttle and route tree. The youths were also able to learn more about specific positions.
“There were a variety of kids out here,” Young said. “One plays football, three of them play soccer and another plays baseball.”
Young said that a major benefit of the camp was that the lessons and exercises that the kids learned would be able to translate to any sport that they played, despite the football focus.
“What we’re teaching them can relate to either sport and allow them to build on their skill,” Young said. “They can work on what we’re teaching them at home, too.”
Young said that the reason behind the drill besides helping the young athletes improve their athletic ability and understanding, was to help build their confidence and lay a proper foundation as the kids go through the various levels of competitive sport.
“There’s so many of us going off to college and wanting to come back and help and for the youth here, it builds their confidence,” he said. “We wanted to get them to understand the aspects of body control but the main thing we wanted to do is teach them the basic skills they need.  I think that by doing the agility drills and the position drills, it helps their development.”
In addition to these benefits, Young said that the two-day camp would also leave a lasting impression on the participants. Young discussed one drill in particular that he said he felt would stick with the kids for years to come, as it has with him.
“One drill that kind of grew on them was the stadium run,” he said. “I told them that they’d probably be playing here in the future and the best way to prepare for that is to know the stadium inside and out. I think this will give them a great memory.”
Young said he was also impressed with the participants’ resolve and enjoyment of the camp.
“No matter what we threw at them, they’d press on and run each drill as hard as they can every time,” he said. “Not one decided to quit or decided that they didn’t want to do it. They really liked it.”
Young came away from the camp satisfied that the youth had a chance to improve their all-around athleticism and he said that a few of the athletes started to show interest in playing other sports besides the ones that they already participated in.
“Seeing their energy and enthusiasm does make me feel good but the most important thing was that the kids had a chance to learn techniques from various positions,” he said.
Young added that according to what he and the rest of the coaches saw from the kids, the future of Tallapoosa County high school athletics would be in very good hands.
“I think we’ve got some future players out here,” he said.