Wethersfield's inaugural Eagles Youth Football Camp was last week with nearly 40 kids partaking in the weeklong program.
Wethersfield head football coach Matt McKinnon and his coaching staff completed the inaugural Eagles Youth Football Camp last week.
Nearly 40 kids, entering grades 5-8, learned the fundamentals of football at Wethersfield High School during the five-day camp, which ran July 25-29.
“It’s been fantastic. Parks and Recreation reopened this summer and it has allowed these kids to come out and learn the game safely,” McKinnon said last Thursday, “We all came together and we’ve had a lot of fun with the kids.”
Campers teamed up to develop skills, better understand the nuances of the game, and get a firsthand experience at what it’s like to play on the field turf at Cottone Field.
Along with learning and enhancing skills, the campers also were treated to fun games, guest speakers, and even ice cream.
McKinnon said it is important that kids in this age range are taught every position and learn all three phases of the game — offense, defense, and special teams.
“It’s not about wins and losses at this age, it’s about learning the game so when you come to the high school level you’re prepared,” added McKinnon, who had his dedicated coaching staff and player volunteers helping out. “It’s a community effort. [The campers] will learn how to get in a stance, how to take on a block, and how to throw and catch the ball correctly. We harp on the fundamentals.”
McKinnon added that he was surprised at the skills level of many of the campers, saying, “These kids can throw the ball. Their parents are doing a great job in the backyard with these kids.”
Campers of all levels — from highly-talented to novice players — attended and McKinnon said regardless of skill level all the kids brought maximum energy for the two hour sessions each day.
“The one thing I love with all these kids is that they are playing together,” said the fifth-year head coach. “They are out here making new friends and learning from the coaches and player volunteers from the high school program. It’s a great community on the field.”
McKinnon had originally planned to have the initial camp in previous years, but the Covid-19 pandemic threw a wrinkle into the plans, causing the Parks and Rec. to hold up activities.
McKinnon said the long wait allowed him and his staff to put together the best possible camp. He also consulted his brother, James McKinnon, who is the girls' basketball coach at Rocky Hill High School and runs a basketball camp for kids of similar ages called ‘Hoop Hill’.
Immediately following camp, McKinnon said that he and his staff will start planning for next year’s camp where they expect the numbers to increase.
They will then turn their attention to the upcoming high school season with practices starting later in August and the first game scheduled for Sept. 9 at Windsor High School. The Eagles home opener at Cottone Field is slated for Sept. 23 against Joel Barlow at 7:00 p.m.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin