The Union High School football program is all about connecting athletes and having grit, and they decided to take that to the next level by hosting their first off-season youth football camp this year. Coached by the Union High football team and staff, scholars in grades 2-7 were welcome to attend. In total, over 75 youth athletes participated.
“One thing I’m trying to develop at GRPS is taking our older scholars and having them understand who the younger scholars are,” said Don Fellows, Union’s head varsity football coach.
Fellows aims to get to know younger scholars who are performing well in their academic setting and have a passion for football. His goal is to build a comprehensive, community-based football program for scholars in grades K-12. He knows he needs to do that by creating programs for scholar-athletes at all grade levels.
Two years ago Fellows helped launch a youth football program that continues to show success. This fall, the 3rd and 4th graders went undefeated and the 5th and 6th graders won half of their games. The 7th and 8th grade middle school team also finished without a loss. In many ways, this success was led by the high school football team, who are also showing improvements on the field and in the classroom. The high school players are demonstrating a commitment to the program, and they are sharing that passion with younger athletes. That is why, Fellows believes, he saw success at the elementary, middle, and high school levels of the program.
This year, Fellows added, there are 90 high school scholars playing football at Union. Four of them are scholarship scholars, who excel beyond expectations in the classroom, and several of their teammates are ranked in their classes. Nearly all of this year’s football team has above a 3.0 GPA as well, Fellows said.
Fellows wanted to show the younger athletes who they can become if they continue working hard in the classroom and practicing football each year. He brought out a talented sophomore scholar, Syncere Hobson, to speak to the audience about his experience as a football player at Union. Syncere is ranked as a top offensive lineman in his class.
“Football itself can only take you so far, but school can take you further,” said Hobson. “School takes you through the rest of your life.”
Scholars were able to ask Fellows and his team questions about academics and becoming a successful scholar-athlete in the near future. The team answered each question thoroughly, explaining to the youth that practice comes second to education, grit is a necessary part of being an athlete, and respecting your teammates and others around you is an essential part of being on the team.
Following opening remarks, the football camp kicked off with warm-ups and a team huddle. Don Fellows and Andrew Stoddard, the 5th and 6th grade football coach, hyped up the teams and got them excited to practice new skills. Exercise drills ranged from tackling to catching, hiking the ball to throwing a proper pass.
“My job is to take these younger scholar athletes to these camps for exposure,” said Fellows. “They will be community leaders in our town and this will get them there.” While exposure camps might be the ultimate high school goal, giving kids opportunities to play now is the first step.
“We want to make sure our scholars get an opportunity like every other scholar gets,” said a passionate Fellows. “I hope everyone feels that way in our football community.”
Fellows also organized a flag football program that will launch this spring, and the Union High School team will be coaching. There will be an offensive and defensive coordinator leading each youth team, and the season will culminate in a league tournament hosted by the varsity program. Youth, middle school, and high school tackle football will return again in the fall.
For more information about Union Youth Football, please reach out to Megan Persons (firstname.lastname@example.org). For more information about middle and high school football, please contact Don Fellows (email@example.com).
- Click to see a larger version Union High School head football coach Don Fellows speaks to youth audience
- Click to see a larger version GRPS youth prepare to catch a football
- Click to see a larger version Union High School football team prepares to do exercise drills with youth campers
- Click to see a larger version Union High School quarterback Grayson Fellows explains a throwing drill
- Click to see a larger version GRPS youth practice football catching skills
- Click to see a larger version Members of the Union High School football team