Youth learn football techniques at free camp

HOOVER – More than 100 football players sweated through drills under a draining summer sun on June 19-21 at Spain Park High School.

The varsity Jaguars were not getting a head start on the upcoming season but instead mentoring the youth that will one day don the blue and black during the annual Spain Park Youth Football Camp.

About 130 youth entering kindergarten through sixth grade participated in the free camp, which usually accommodates about 100 players, Spain Park coach Shawn Raney said.

The camp, which pre-dates Raney’s arrival in 2013, drew youngsters from surrounding communities like Oak Mountain and Trussville.

Current SPHS football players help with the camp and are looked up to by the campers, Raney said.

“They want to grow up and be those guys,” he said. “It helps establish a tradition, which this school hasn’t had.”

The current players also get a taste of what it is like to coach.

“They get to see what it’s like when they coach them to do something and they don’t do it,” Raney laughed.

The players began each day with warm-up exercises, then split into groups by age and rotated among stations where they learned drills specific to each position on the football field: quarterback, running back, receiver, offensive and defensive lines, linebacker and defensive back.

The camp lasted from 9:30 a.m. to noon each day, concluding with games of Jag Ball, which Raney said utilizes football skills but in a format similar to Ultimate Frisbee with no tackling.

“Then have fun doing that,” Raney said.

Ryan Harvey said his favorite part of the camp was the tackling dummy, while Matthew Iwanski said he prefers offense.

“There’s more stuff to do,” Iwanski said.

Spain Park’s varsity team begins its season Aug. 24 with a visit from Hillcrest.