MEDICINE HAT, AB – Elite, college level talent coming out of the Medicine Hat Minor Football system has become more and more common over the last few years.
Riding that wave of success, Big Sky Passing has been getting the next wave of young football stars ready for the gridiron.
Over the last two months, a quarterback and receiver camp has been put on for interested players ranging in age from those in Grade 3 to high school students.
Coach Will Boyd said with 30 athletes taking part in just the atom and peewee camp alone, it’s great to see more interest in the sport locally.
“It’s really exciting to see Medicine Hat football grow,” said Boyd. “We’re trying to grow it as a community, and having these camps and having the kids come in at the age of Grade 3 is really helping develop their skills.”
Most of the drills focused on the mechanics of throwing and route running, giving athletes the basic tools to build off of.
“It’s nice to get the mechanics down with the quarterbacks with their throwing arm, their footwork,” said Boyd. “With the receivers trying to work on their hand-eye coordination, working on their footwork, their routes. And, just trying to teach them the little things in the game that we don’t always have time to get through when you’re coaching at practice.”
It was a chance for players learning new positions to pick up skills, such as third-year player Lyric Papineau who is set to make the switch to quarterback.
“I’ve always wanted to play it my whole life,” said Papineau. “I’ve always been running, playing with footballs, but I’ve always wanted to play this sport. So, once I got older and have had the chance to, I’ve been able to play so I’ve played.”
Learning how to properly drop back and hold the ball in the pocket, Papineau said it’s going to be a welcome change getting to be one of the leaders at the quarterback position.
“It feels good because I’ve never been a leader,” said Papineau. “It’s going to feel good to help my teammates and be happy with them.”
Sunday’s camp featured non-contact drills at Medicine Hat High School, as the coaching staff are pushing towards teaching safe contact fundamentals.
With the rise in education surrounding concussions over the last few years, Boyd said it’s vital that they instruct athletes on how to properly and safely lay a tackle.
“I know parents are leery sometimes with football, it is an aggressive sport,” he said. “But, when you teach it safely and see it grow with the little kids, it’s just exciting. Because, without that the sport’s not going to be around if it keeps up the trend.”
The ten-week camp will wind up with sessions on April 21 and April 28, while registration is now open for Big Sky’s summer football camp in late July.
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