Camps put football back in action
Football is back in Eudora.
It began July 26 with the participation of Andrew Pyle and Gregg Webb in the annual Kansas Shrine Bowl, and it continued with Coach Webb's football camp last week. Cardinal fans hope it won't end until a state championship in November.
The weeklong camp touched multiple grades with multiple objectives.
There were separate three camps that ran July 28 through Friday for third- and fourth-graders, fifth- and sixth-graders, and high schoolers.
The younger kids got an opportunity to learn from an experienced football staff that had its Cardinal team on the cusp of a state championship last year.
"With the younger kids, we really try to aim at basics and fundamentals -- to get familiar with what the game of football is all about," Webb said. "You can teach a lot of stuff in a week."
The workouts were non-contact, although the kids to got to tackle some dummies for fun.
"It's a mental camp, not a physical camp," Webb said. "But football is a contact sport. You have to be a tough, tough kid. It is a great sport to teach kids to compete and to be mentally tough and physically tough."
Webb is passionate about what football is all about and, moreover, what athletics are all about. He is an ardent believer in the positive role athletics can play in a child's development.
"I think it's huge," Webb said. "It gives them structure, and it gives them discipline. It teaches them hard work, dedication and commitment. It teaches them so many life lessons that they would never learn if they don't do it.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time, it's a positive experience. I wish they would make it mandatory that each kid participates in some sport for one year. There are way too many wanderers and drifters."
Webb's own participation seemed to have done him some good. He appeared in mid-season form after being saturated with the sport at the Shrine Bowl.
"I was telling the kids that I was already in a different stage of the season," Webb said. "I had a week and a half of football crammed down my throat 24/7. I've already played in a game and been through a training camp."
The Shrine Bowl experience was intense, but Webb said he was honored to be a part of the cause. The Shrine Bowl has raised more than $2 million for Shriner's Hospitals for children.
"It's a heavy burden and sacrifice," Webb said. "But the cause far outweighs the sacrifice. It humbles and brings you a sense of reality; a perspective on how fortunate we are."
The Shrine Bowl symbolically marked the official conclusion of the previous school year. Coaches know they need to direct their focus toward the approaching fall season.
The high school camp represented Webb's sole opportunity to practice with his players during the summer months. Twenty-two Eudora players participated in a beneficial camp June 1 through 4 in Hays.
"It was great for us," Webb said. "We got so much better."
As far as direct control is concerned, state guidelines permit a coach a single week during the summer -- prior to Aug. 1 -- to practice with his players. Many coaches choose to use their week immediately following the school year. Those coaches hope to use the time to energize their players to maintain off-season workout programs. Webb, however, chooses to utilize his opportunity as a catalyst for the new season.
"We start practice August 18, and this way they haven't forgotten everything you taught them," Webb said. "You can jump right into things you did in camp in the summer."
Webb's main objective for the camp was to familiarize his players with the philosophies and fundamentals of the offensive scheme. A parallel objective was the evaluation of talent.
"We are trying to put kids in a position to succeed," Webb said. "We need to prioritize our positions and isolate the team's strengths and weaknesses."
All but one member of the coaching staff, who was lost to a prior commitment, was in attendance for the camp.
"We have great intensity and enthusiasm from our staff," Webb said. "That's what makes us so good. They're all very happy to do it, because they know the potential we have and the excitement it brings to the town."