And all of the staff was there. While Bo Pelini wasn't personally involved with any of the particular drills, his presence was known. Jeff Jamrog takes the lead of the camps and the camp, as a whole, ran incredibly well considering the ages of the participants. I mean, my eight year old son wanted to stay in the dorms without either parent being there. We just didn't see this as being something we wanted to burden any other adult with.
Being part of the media, I was interested in how it was ran. As a parent, I got a chance to see the inter-workings of the camp, the coaches in action that had the full-time Nebraska assistants in action as well as some well known Huskers come back to help like Tommie Frazier, Brendan Stai, John Garrison and Joe Ganz. It was something that my son really was in awe of. But what I stood in awe of were the coaches' ability to go from college coach to even a little bit of baby-sitter.
Many of you have volunteered to coach your child's soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, etc. team in the past. You all know how difficult it was to get everyone on the same page and also how difficult it was to keep all of their attention all of the time. As a college coach, I can only imagine that they don't have to deal with that very much with their players at Nebraska, but in their time as being a parent they have had their fair share of experience with it.
What I got such a kick out of was seeing the difference in coaching styles and how they related to the camp participants. Many were straight forward with it. Others used more of a pop-culture approach. Then there were some that their energy just seemed like it would never run out, much like the young legs in the camp. Whatever their approach was, the players listened and came away from the camp with many of the keys to not only playing football, but to being successful.
The camp was a great combination of training with the coaches as well as fun. Doing drills that as a football player they will be doing in some shape or form for as long as they play at a particular position. The way that the training periods were ran were ran long enough to get everyone through the lines and get their reps, but oddly almost coincided with how long many of their attention spans were. The training periods also allowed the players to hydrate and burn off extra energy between the drills running from one place to another.
When the training was over the kids were all assigned to teams and took part in competition that was called "Husker Ball". Now, this was kind of a combination of football, rugby and Australian rules football with it all being one hand touch. You had the formal center snap to a quarterback and at least one pass. From there the ball could be passed forward, backward, sideways and everything in between trying to advance the ball. If the ball hit the ground, it was a dead ball. The ball could be intercepted and returned. All of the kids on all of the teams were involved and all seemed to enjoy it.
When I first saw the number of participants in the camp, I was pretty amazed. To me, span of control is key. With 8-13 year olds, an effective span of control is maybe 15 and pushing it at 20. With the number of players that Nebraska had in there last weekend, it was probably closer to 25 to 30 per coach. Still, I was told that the number of participants this year in comparison to last year for the Husker Youth Camp was down.
This to me was a shock and I felt compelled that not as a member of the media, but as a father to pass along a letter of recommendation for the camp. We are already planning on making the trip again next year. This time, after my son plays his first season of organized football in Dallas this fall, we are hopeful that it will be him and at least one friend and they will get their chance to stay on-campus in the dorms and get the full camp experience.