Learning the game

Campers taught skills by St. James players

Campers taught skills by St. James players

June 21, 2002|by KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Thirteen-year-old Eddie Dorsey knew the basics of football when he arrived at Hagerstown's Fairgrounds Park for football camp this week but on Thursday he said he learned a lesson about tackling that could prevent him from being sidelined with a serious injury.

"I have to look to the sky when I tackle," he said.

Doing so protects a tackler's head and neck and places most of the impact on the shoulders, said Daryl Hayes, supervisor of the four-day Hagerstown Police Athletic League 2002 football camp that finishes up today.

The local nonprofit PAL, run by Hagerstown City Police Officer Brett McKoy, provides free or low-cost athletic activities for youngsters in Washington County.


Hayes is the head football coach at St. James School. During the clinic, players from the prep school instructed Washington County youths in grades four to nine on the fundamentals of football.

Having the St. James students teach the noncontact clinic gives them a chance to share their knowledge of the sport and be role models for the participants, Hayes said.

Athletics "give kids confidence," said Lee Morris, a St. James junior.

Eight-year-old Troy Devin said he's tossed the football at home with his dad but the clinic helped him improve his form.

Devin said the clinic was fun and "it helps you learn more," he said.

Several of the coaches credited Devin with having the "spirit" needed to be a good player.

St. James lineman Emilio Rodriguez said he volunteered to coach because he likes working with children and wants them to have an edge he didn't have because he didn't start playing until seventh grade.

"It's best to get an early start," he said.

Learning the fundamentals at an early age typically allows a player to progress faster than youths who wait until middle school to try their hand at the sport, he said.

St. James student athlete Brock Twigg said the most important asset for a football player is determination.

"You have to want to do something better," said Twigg, 17, of Hagerstown.

It's satisfying to help the students learn to do things right, which can help prevent injuries and bad habits from forming, he said.

Dorsey said he plans to take the time to stretch before playing after hearing the St. James coaches describe its benefits.

"You won't pull your muscles," Dorsey said.

The football camp provided specific instruction for developing agility, flexibility, speed, strength and self-discipline.

Football promotes teamwork, which helps students live, work and interact well with others, he said.

"It's never too late to start playing football, and anyone of any size can play," Hayes said.

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