Eric Oslund/

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer ‘more congenial’ at his free camp

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was mostly smiles hosting his first free football camp for 350 kids.

Mike Zimmer took his talents to the grade school level.

The Minnesota Vikings head coach hosted a youth football camp for players in Grades 1-8 at Winter Park on Saturday.

Zimmer and several Vikings players offered tips and hands-on instruction, including lectures, fundamental football skills stations, contests, and non-contact games in a “high-energy and positive environment.” Campers were placed in small groups by age to ensure that each child gets maximum instruction. 

“Enjoy yourself, learn some techniques in football, learn some skill sets – I think that’s always fun,” Zimmer said after Saturday’s session at Winter Park, where he noticed a difference in coaching style dealing with youth.

“I’m a lot more congenial. I see a lot more positives than I do negatives. To me, it’s about these kids having fun and enjoying themselves.”

ProCamps organized the event in conjunction with the Mike Zimmer Foundation, with Medtronics as a title sponsor. The first 200 spots went to participants in the Boys and Girls Club and the remaining 150 spots were filled by online signups that were in enough demand to crash the site.

The camp was filled to capacity well before Saturday and was free to the kids.

“One of the things we always say is, ‘What would Vikki do – WWVD?’ It would be free. So that’s what we try to do,” Zimmer said, referring to his late wife. “It’s more about these kids having fun and enjoying themselves and that’s really all we’re trying to do.”

In addition to football instruction, camp staff covered health and nutrition, including how important it is to take care of your body and the critical role it plays in sports. The goal was to promote a healthy and active way of living, with Medtronic giving an assist in that area.

It was part of the Mike Zimmer Foundation, which was created to honor Vikki with a goal to give back to youth of Minnesota and potentially branch out beyond Minnesota in the future.  

“It’s important for us to be able to give back to the community,” Zimmer said. “… We want to make sure we’re combining sports and athletics and education and healthy lifestyles.”

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