It was a week of short-term fun with a long-term view.

JACKSON TWP.  It was a week of short-term fun with a long-term view.

Last month, Jackson Youth Football held its annual football camp for students entering kindergarten through seventh grade, bringing some 200 students to Fife Stadium for four days of drills, competition and fun.

While many of those taking part are years away from being able to suit up under the lights on a Friday night, head coach Tim Budd knows that teaching the next generation how to play the game right is the best method to building a strong program.

“We want to get them excited about football and about their upcoming seasons with Jackson Youth Football,” Budd said. “We worked on offensive skills and defensive skills, and during camp, every kid had the chance to try every position.”

Camp ran from 10 a.m. to noon each day, with the high school coaching staff, seniors on this fall’s varsity team and other volunteers helping organize it. Although the camp was open to anyone who fell within its age range, Budd estimated that 98 percent of those who took part were from Jackson.

Having his upcoming seniors help run the camp and teach younger players was an encouraging sight for Budd, who is entering his second season leading the Polar Bears.

“I love how much joy they get from being role models and mentors to the younger kids and what a rewarding experience it is for them,” Budd said.

Larry Baker, a member of the high school team’s coaching staff, served as the camp coordinator and spent months lining up all of the details to make sure the week went off well. Baker worked to promote the camp in the elementary and middle schools throughout the district and with attendance hovering around 200 all four days, those efforts paid off.

With many elementary school students in the camp crowd, keeping things moving and fresh was a top priority. There was a punt, pass and kick competition to determine who had the best all-around skills for each age group and even though one traditional element of football was missing, Budd counted the week as a success.

“Even though we couldn’t have tackling, which is the coolest part of football, it was still a lot of fun,” Budd said.

Aside from the fun of running around, playing a game they enjoy and competing against their friends, campers also received input on the position they play from seniors such as Gary Parsons, who worked with defensive coach and former Jackson standout Jay Rohr, teaching the linebacker group.

Parsons recalled being at the same camp as a young player, getting a chance to hang out with the standout varsity players of that time. He’s now a senior on a team hoping to break Jackson’s playoff drought and those he taught for the week harbor similar dreams for their football futures.

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or andy.harris@thesuburbanite.com.
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