Text and photos by Steev Riccardo; more photos follow
Dudley - It has been a long time since Joe Namath held his annual football camp at Nichols College in Dudley, so naturally it was real treat to see high school kids on the field last week honing their skills in the off season.
Nichols College head football coach Kevin Loney, with the help of the National Football League and the Army National Guard, hosted the NFL High School Development Program, a completely free four-day camp at the college.
The NFL High School Player Development program addresses challenges facing high school football programs across the country, focusing primarily on underserved communities. HSPD serves as a free resource for both high school players and coaches. The program emphasizes safety and concussion awareness, character development and life skills, and football fundamentals.
Several local returning high school players from Bartlett, Shepherd Hill, and Bay Path Regional were on hand at the camp, along with kids from surrounding schools such as Southbridge, Tantasqua Regional, and David Prouty.
“The big plus for this camp is that it’s not just about football, it’s about character development,” said the second year Bison coach. “We are teaching loyalty, development, sportsmanship, proper nutrition, responsible driving, it’s amazing what we are giving these kids. We talked tonight about the NCAA rules and how that is going to affect all these kids in the next couple years.”
“It’s a credit to all the coaches of all these high schools, Chris Lindstrom, Dane (Laboissonniere), all those guys, they did a phenomenal job of getting those kids together and getting all the paper work together. It’s a free camp so the paper work is a hassle. The NFL is going to try and protect themselves as much as it can.”
“We have a great community here in this southern Worcester County area and there was a need for a camp like this. We have some schools here where the kids don’t have a lot of money and it’s a short trip and the parents can take them here.”
Loney was also impressed with the talent level of the kids at the camp. “We have some outstanding skill players out here. There are some outstanding quarterbacks here. It’s a credit to the local coaches, you can tell these kids have been well coached.”
Two of those quarterbacks were Shepherd Hill’s Drew Ravenelle and Bartlett’s Ricky Spooner, who both will play huge roles in their team’s offense this coming fall.
This camp is also great asset to Loney and the school that hopes to attract more locals to the college for their secondary education.
“The thing that I have been saying since I got hired here is that we need to turn the roster over and get a lot of Central and Eastern Mass kids here. I can’t talk about who we have coming in, but in our incoming class we only have five or six of the 50 or so kids coming who are from outside of the region. That is our philosophy, to get local kids; it will create a great atmosphere in the stands and that’s what we want.”
“This is great for Nichols College. We are growing and building. Our team had a great spring practice; we had 65 freshmen last year. We took our lumps and learned. We have to be able to get our guys to the point where they understand they are supposed to go out and win games; we have to execute and win games.” Loney expects to have 90 guys in football camp in August.
An all-star team of 12 players was selected to go to Foxboro to compete at Gillette Stadium with teams from other, similar camps for an opportunity to go to Indianapolis for a national competition.
“If we can educate the kids as much as we can, then we are off to the races,” said Loney, who is well on his way, following this very successful camp.
Bartlett Coach Dane Laboissonniere
Shepherd Hill Coach Chris Lindstrom
Bartlett Quarterback Ricky Spooner
Bay Path players working out
- Friday, 22 June 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Sports