The Preble Shawnee Wee Arrows Football Organization planned a three-day football camp for the second year in a row and had double the amount of boys participate this year compared to last.
Jimmy Verdon, former NFL player with the New Orleans Saints and Cincinnati Bengals, began the camp last year because he didn’t have these opportunities when he was a kid.
“It’s a blessing, ‘cause when I was younger, I didn’t have anything like this,” Verdon said. “Any way I can give back and teach these kids something, I’m all for it.”
Verdon said it’s important for the boys to stay active, no matter what sport they are playing.
“The more different sports you do, the more different muscles you work over your lifetime,” Verdon said.
Preble Shawnee Wee Arrows President Tom Batsche said during the day the boys do some agility training, speed drills, offensive drills, defensive drills and learn proper stance and running form.
The boys can use what they learn on the field during games, Batsche said. Usually during the last hour of the day the boys participate in a tag football scrimmage.
Batsche said the turnout for this year’s camp has been phenomenal. This year, 31 boys participated in the camp, up from about 17 last year.
“Just because of the kids spreading the word,” Batsche said. “We’re hoping every year to have 100 percent return from the kids from previous years.”
Fifteen of the boys who participated in the camp last year returned this year. Each boy who participates in the camp receives a camp T-shirt.
Batsche said the camp is not just for kids from Preble Shawnee and serves kids from first-12th grade.
“Everybody has a blast when they do the camp,” Batsche said. “They all learn a lot.”
This is the first year 9-year-old Calvin Chesnet participated in the camp.
“It’s so fun,” Calvin said. “It’s got all the fun stuff in it. Passing, throwing it, kicking it, tackling people.”
Calvin said going through the drills has been fun. He has been playing football for four years and currently plays for the Preble Shawnee Arrows.
Verdon said he will usually come up during the year to watch the Arrows play in the fall.
Most of the boys play football in the fall and Batsche said the camps are a bonding experience for them. He said he wishes more schools organized camps because the boys will look back when they’re seniors in high school and realized how much they learned.
“I think it’s important to them because it teaches them discipline, teaches them respect, and when you have a disciplined team and a team that has respect, it’s easy for the coaches,” Batsche said. “Everybody works together.”