Before diving into its own preseason camp, many Mingus Union High School football players helped Cottonwood’s future generation of Marauders get going with their own seasons.
The city’s elder statesmen of the gridiron coached their younger counterparts during a youth camp held at the campus’ Bright Field from Tuesday to Thursday, July 18 to 20.
More than 100 participants ranging from first- to eighth-graders came out to learn, get pointers and have a good time with the current Marauders players.
“In three days we work on tackling, three-point stance, receiving, passing, kicking,” Mingus head coach Bob Young said. “If they learn one thing a day then it’s worth it for them.”
Despite dark clouds threatening with rain as far as the eye could see the first two days, the camp went off without a problem.
Every day campers were exposed to many facets of the game. Since many of the younger players had little experience, or were too new and young to have a set position, they did it all.
During tackling and lineman play, this included pushing against pads that stood twice the size of some of the youngest.
Most of drills were led by the Mingus players that touched on all areas of the game. Many of those players once upon time were among the wide-eyed, energetic bunch speeding around Bright Field, including junior Alex Nelson.
“I like it because it puts a smile on these kids’ faces, you can tell they’re having fun,” Nelson said. “I can imagine it’s the same smile I put on as a little kid.”
“I remember a lot of these guys when they were kids,” Young said. “That’s kind of what makes it neat. Now they’re here to give back.”
Some of the middle-school aged campers worked on more advanced things to gear up for their season at Cottonwood Middle School, like running and passing plays.
Young said that the camp helps get Cottonwood’s youth fired up for the season with High Desert Youth Football, and prepares them for a potential future as a Marauder.
“We started this about 30 years ago just to help youth football get going. They start practice next week,” Young said. “You’re only as good as your feeder program. We want them to be excited.”
Nelson could attest to that notion, reflecting on his time as a camper.
“Basically having fun with my friends, getting to love football more and more,” Nelson said. “Having fun and making the most of football.”
More than developing football players, Nelson enjoys the personal connections made with the kids.
“You get to know them as a person, it’s just fun to teach them. They get better and better through the days,” Nelson said.