The Cambridge Youth Football Camp finished up Day 2 on Wednesday at the Cambridge Soccer Field, and despite the sweltering high temperatures, the number of campers participating this year was up.
A fact that brought a smile to CHS head football coach Ray Leek’s face.
A total of 83 area youngsters attended this year’s two-day camp, compared to 55 last season.
Leek explained he felt it’s due to the progress the Bobcats’ program has made the last few years.
“Those numbers just tell us we are doing things the right way,” Leek explained. “The excitement in our program is huge right now from biddy league all the way up to the varsity level. Everybody’s doing a great job all the way up through, allowing us to continue to build numbers which is the big thing.”
Leek gave a lot of credit to the volunteers handling the youth program, which is critical in building a solid program, the Cambridge head man explained.
“Our biddy league program is the foundation of our program,” Leek offered. “We get them learning the right things down there at a young age, then we just add to that as they get older and continue to move up in the program. Without the biddy league program, our numbers would suffer. It would be just a ripple effect clear up through to the varsity level.
“Our biddy league volunteers have been doing just a great job. They are here today, signing up players to play this fall. We have a great working relationship and it really benefits us both,” Leek added. “We all have the same goal. We want to keep the players involved in the program, starting at biddy league, then middle school and up to me at the varsity level.”
Leek explained his main goal for the camp is to get players excited about football, while teaching them the basics of the gridiron game.
“The main purpose of our camp is to teach the kids the fundamentals. Number two is to teach them the foundations of our Bobcat program,” Leek added. “And then thirdly to get them excited about playing football and to just have fun while they are here.”
Leek was impressed with the way his young campers worked despite the hot temperatures, as camp ran from 10 am to 12 pm both sessions.
“It’s really been exciting to see how hard the kids have been working, it’s really hot out here,” Leek continued. “But they never complained, just did what they were asked. We have a lot of good kids here, which is a great foundation to build a program on.”
The camp featured football instruction from Coach Leek and his coaching staff. A huge plus for the campers was the Cambridge varsity players taking an active part in working with the kids.
“Those young guys really look up to our varsity players,” the CHS head man explained. “So for our varsity players to be out here teaching, and working with those young players makes a huge impact with them. Really proud of my guys for stepping up and embracing the last two days. They have done just a great job and these kids will remember this.”
“Our high school payers did a great job of leading this, taking the kids through drills,” Leek added. “Thought they did a great job of mingling with the kids and talking with them. It was great thing to see.”
For Cambridge seventh grader AJ Lawrence, the son of Ben and Denise Lawrence, the best part of the camp was being able to meet and learn from the high school players.
“I’ve been coming to camp for three years and the best part is being able to learn from the varsity players,” Lawrence explained. “They helped me with lots of things like catching and throwing the football better. Also I feel I got better with my tackling, they helped me with the proper form.
“I really came just wanting to learn anything I could,” Lawrence added. “I had a great time and I’m really looking forward to playing seventh grade football this year.”
The camp was relocated to the soccer field this year due to some exciting renovations taking place at the Bobcat’ home McFarland Stadium. A brand new turf field and locker room will be ready for the upcoming gridiron season.
“We are ecstatic to have the opportunity to play on a brand new turf field this season and to have a newly renovated locker room as well,” Leek offered.
Leek feels satisfied with the amount of work that was accomplished over the last two days, and feels it was a positive experience for everyone involved.
“We got better the last two days,” Leek expressed. “With out these kids hard work and dedication over the last two days that’s not possible. From the high school players putting in the extra time, to the young kids coming out and being willing to be coachable. Everyone got something out of this. just hope to keep these kids coming back and sticking with the program.”