JULY 22, 2015 - COVINGTON
|Buccaneer junior high players compete in 7-on-7.
There is a message being delivered across the nation from those opposed to football - a message that is threatening the game as evident by the decreased numbers in participation over the past few years due to the fear of head injuries.
It's a message Covington coach Dave Miller takes seriously, which is why he is being proactive in teaching the basic fundamentals in an effort to minimize the threat of injury - and hopefully minimize the fear parents may have in regards to their own children benefitting from the life lessons from playing the ultimate team sport.
"Football is the ultimate team sport because you have to rely on all eleven guys on field to do their job in order to be successful," Miller told a group of 63 kids in grades second through eighth at the 13th annual football camp held over three days at Covington High School. "Football develops mental toughness and trust amongst your peers. The lessons you learn from football carries through the rest of your life."
Dave Miller has benefitted himself from his football days playing at Centerville High School in the '80s, which is why he is concerned about the message being delivered from those opposed to football.
"There is a movement in this country threatening this great game," Miller explained to the campers. "That's why we do the things a certain way at Covington. We do things the right way, the Covington Way. Our kids work their tails off, lifting, conditioning, giving maximum effort."
Which is why Miller put a strong emphasis at camp to teach the youngsters what is called "Heads Up Football".
With the 2015 varsity Buccaneers providing instruction, the campers went through non-contact tackling drills where keeping the head away from the contact area was the emphasis. Tackling was broken down into each segment so campers could gain a full understanding of the safest and most proper way to make a tackle.
As in years past, the campers were split up into teams and points were awarded for the winners of the punt, pass, kick, forty-yard dash and the shuttle - as well as for attitude and effort. The points were tallied and the teams were seeded for a 7-on-7 tournament on the final day of the camp.
Then, which has become a tradition at camp, the Buccaneer seniors closed out the camp by expressing to the campers how much it means to play football at Covington.
"It means everything to me," said Coleman Ryan, the Buccaneers' starting wideout and defensive back. "To run out on this field with your buddies under the lights on Friday nights and see the stands full, it's a great feeling."
Senior center Ethan Nash expressed his appreciation for the camaraderie developed amongst teammates through the hard work they put into the game.
"We come in here at five-thirty in the morning for lifting and we have fun doing it," he said. "We make it fun. We work really hard, but when you are with your buddies putting in that hard work, it's fun."
Senior nose guard Logan Fields stressed how much the tradition at Covington means to him.
"We play for all of those guys who came before us," he said. "There's a strong tradition here at Covington and we don't want to let anyone down."
Which prompted Ryan to express the importance of expectations.
"At Covington, we expect to go 10-0 and make the playoffs," he said. "At a lot of schools, making the playoffs is a dream. Here, it's an expectation."
Expectations are realized with hard work and preparation - and not everyone is willing to make that sacrifice.
"It takes a special human being to want to play football," said Miller. "It's too tough for some people, but what they may not realize is life is tough. If you want something in life you have to work for it and that's what football teaches you."
Hopefully all 63 participants took a strong message away from camp - that football is a special game played by special people.