The Sand Devils football team held their summer training camp this week. It started Monday and finishes today. The team will return July 23 for official practices before their season begins next month.
Football camp is less serious than regular season practices, said head football coach Mitchell Stephens.
“Camp was competitive and productive but we also wanted to make it fun” said Coach Stephens.
For instance, as part of camp they played dodgeball. The skills players had seven on seven challenges, while the linemen divided into teams and did truck pushes, where each team was timed on how fast they could push a truck to a cone a distance away.
The idea behind such drills and games is to spark the competitive fires of his players, as well as a fun way to build strength and conditioning, said Coach Stephens.
The other big goal the coaches want to accomplish during their three days at camp are to build a sense of team and family among the players. And the coaches were happy to see it happening.
“I’ve saw one of the senior players take one of the freshmen players aside and coach him through some things,” said assistant coach Chris Green. “Now that freshman kid was my son, so as a father and not only a coach, it meant a lot to me to see that.”
Such acts of upper classmen stepping forward to help freshmen and sophomores is something the coaches are watching for.
“We’re always watching for the team’s leaders to emerge,” said Coach Green.
Ultimately, football is about building character, said Coach Stephens.
“As a coach that’s always our first priority,” he said. “I once heard a quote that really impressed me. Another football coach had just won a championship and a reporter asked him how he felt about the season and the championship. The coach replied, `Ask me in 20 years when I see how these men have turned out.’”
Camaraderie and teamwork is essential to every successful season, and the Sand Devils show it better than most, said Coach Stephens.
“I’ve been in a lot of programs and they always preach family,” he said, “but I’ve never seen it more than I have with this team.”
One of last year’s seniors and team leaders, Jacob McCabe, who will be playing college football for Fort Lewis College this autumn, has worked as a volunteer coach this summer for that reason, and he’s really enjoyed doing it, he said.
“This is my family and this is my sport,” he said. “My goal is to return to coaching after college.”