Samuel D. Logan
The Valdosta Daily Times
Beginning Tuesday, David Dean, the head coach of the Valdosta State Blazer football team, and other members of his staff came together to host the annual "David Dean Youth Camp.” The general idea of the camp has been around since 2002 and allows younger children to get hands-on fundamentals about football in addition to meeting some of their favorite Blazers.
Running from 8 a.m. until noon each day, the participants open the day learning fundamentals, then move on to different team competitions that incorporate the same fundamentals they just learned.
“The first thing they get from this is the opportunity to learn fundamentals. We take them through every position. They might play defensive back in their recreational league, however they get a chance to learn everything. We put them through kicking drills, quarterback drills and even offensive line drills,” said Dean.
To end each day, the participants get to play “Blazer Ball”, which is a team flag football competition, broken into age groups, where the kids get to play with some of the Blazer football players.
“We have about four of five Blazers that come out each day to play 'Blazer Ball' with the kids and to sign autographs,” said Dean. “We also give out snacks at the end of the day.”
With Friday being the last day of this year’s camp, Dean pointed out that the camp had a consistent 45 kids daily.
While the camp is for the kids to enjoy, the Blazers also get a sense of reward when participating.
“I enjoyed watching the kids have fun. Watching them unwind and play football was refreshing. They all seemed to enjoy themselves,” said Blazer linebacker Justin Williams. “This is my third time doing this event and each time it gets better.”
“I enjoyed playing with the kids, getting to know them, having fun and showing them a good time,” said Blazer wide receiver Chris Anderson.
“I loved helping the kids learn and showing them the little things about football,” said Blazer wide receiver Moe Simpson.
One thing that Dean and his staff make sure the kids learn, however, is the importance of sportsmanship.
“The most important thing that we try to emphasize is sportsmanship and being a team player. That’s why we do the competitions where they gather together and compete so they can see what it’s like to win as a team,” said Dean.