Thompson hosts 2019 youth football camp

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor 

ALABASTER – For two nights between Monday, June 17, and Tuesday, June 18, several young athletes stepped onto the field at Warrior Stadium alongside the Thompson football team and got to experience a game they love with some of the athletes they look up to the most at the 2019 Thompson football camp.

Just a few months earlier on Dec. 5, some of those same young campers were in Auburn watching the Warriors compete for a state championship for the first time since the 1980s.

Now, standing on the same field as a lot of those players and coaches that were competing for a title in Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium, the kids were all smiles

Football has always been big in Alabaster, but since head coach Mark Freeman has arrived, it has gotten bigger thanks to the program’s revival and relevance when it comes to competing for championships.

After back-to-back 5-5 seasons during Freeman’s first two seasons at the helm, the Warriors went on to have back-to-back seasons with at least 11 wins. In 2017, they won the Class 7A, Region 3 championship beating Hoover for the first time in school history, and last year they not only beat Hoover again, but did it in the semifinals to clinch a spot in their first state championship game since 1982.

With the football team being such a relevant and exciting pillar to the community, it’s created a new growth of interest among younger athletes in Shelby County’s largest city looking to get involved in the sport.

And having one of the nicest stadiums in the state, as well as an indoor facility and state-of-the-art weight room just sends that enthusiasm through the roof.

During the two days of camp, the exhilaration showed from each of the kids attending the camp, as they laughed, smiled, worked hard and listened to both coaches and players trying to teach them the fundamentals of the game and how much fun they can have playing the game.

Some of the fun stations set up at the camp this season included a speed ladder station, a tackling-dummy station, a one-on-one flag football section, trying to beat and get around an offensive lineman, fielding kicks, catching balls out of routes, maneuvering through step over dummies and kicking the ball.

Each station not only forced the kids to learn what it takes to be good at each position on the football field, but did so in a competitive and fun way.

Two of the more fun stations for the kids included the tackling dummy section and the one-on-one flag football section.

At the tackling station, each camper took turns sprinting toward the dummy before leaping in the air and taking the dummy to the ground. Seeing the laughter on defensive line coach Wes Murphy’s face, as well as the excitement and determination on the faces of the kids as they flew through the air to make the tackles showed the fun they were having.

That also carried into the flag football portion of the camp where athletes took turns going up against one another with flags around their waist trying to either beat the defender to cross the goal line or rip the flag before that happened.

With the coaches, kids and Thompson players all laughing and getting excited when a big play was made, memories were made for many.