This summer, the Concordia Stingers football program once again hosted their annual Football School for kids between the ages of 7 and 16. The camp took place from June 25 to 29, and it once again proved rewarding for not only the kids but for the coaches as well.
The week-long camp gave younger players the chance to lace up their cleats, strap up their pads and receive training from Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) coaches and players. Seen almost as a mini-training camp, Stingers coaches and players tried to teach the kids things they wouldn’t learn anywhere else, said Eric Noivo, the assistant director for the camp and defensive end for the Stingers football team. This summer, there were more than 60 kids who attended the school and, depending on their age, were divided into three groups: Novice (7 to 9-year-olds), Junior (10 to 12-year-olds) or Senior (13 to 16-year-olds).
Bryan Chiu, Concordia’s assistant offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, was the camp director. Other coaches that attended the school included defensive backs coach Nathan Taylor, fullback and tight ends coach Primo Capriolo-Morris and quarterbacks coach Jeff Willett. Other Stingers that led camp activities were Noivo, Kevin Prempeh, Gregory Beaulieu, Fred Landry-Simard, Mike Harrington and Jamal Henry.
Players would begin arriving shortly after 9 a.m. and begin every day with a two-and-a-half-hour practice that ran until noon. Following their lunch break, the campers would head into the gym for an hour session of dodgeball, soccer or basketball. After that, the kids were back on the field for another two-and-a-half-hour practice.
To end the day, the kids were divided up into teams for an air-force football tournament that continued throughout the week. Air-force football is touch football where the coaches lead their teams as the quarterback. Not only was it everyone’s favorite part of the day, but the Stingers coaches and players took it just as seriously as the kids.
“Playing [quarterback] in the touch tournament is as competitive as it gets,” said Noivo. “We take it very seriously because it gives you bragging rights until next year and it’s definitely the kids’ favourite part of the camp.”
As the word “student” in student-athlete comes first, not all the focus was on athletic abilities, according to Noivo. Time was set aside for Stingers coaches and players to talk to the kids about the significance of education, along with the importance of hard work, dedication, respect and teamwork. Campers also received a written evaluation of their football skills, overall attitude and effort.
By the end of the week, everyone was able to take something away from their experience at the Stingers Football School.
“It’s rewarding when you teach the kids a skill and you see them apply it and improve at it over the course of the week,” said Noivo. “In the end, it’s fun for the coaches too because it gives us an opportunity to teach the game we love to future Stingers.”