Callaway youth camp a hit
Published 3:58 pm Thursday, July 11, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s one of his favorite days of the year.
For 10 years now, Callaway High head football coach Pete Wiggins has been hosting a youth football camp at the school’s practice facility.
This year’s camp was held on Wednesday morning, with Wiggins, the team’s other coaches, as well as a handful of the players serving as instructors.
Dozens of young players, including two of Wiggins’ children, participated in the camp, and they pushed through to the finish line while participating in a handful of drills under the scorching July sun.
“This is a very special day for me for a lot of reasons,” said Wiggins, who is heading into his 15th season as Callaway’s head coach. “I like to see our coaches interact with the young people. Our coaching staff has so much invested in so many
of these kids. We’ve got our own kids out here participating in the camp and have been for a long time. We’ve got former players who have kids that are out here now. There are four or five kids whose days played for us. So that’s really special.”
Wiggins also enjoys watching his players, many of whom participated in the camp growing up, work with the campers.
“To see our seniors interact with the young people and lead, you see a different side of them, and you a leadership quality that you look for in helping guide our team when times get tough,” Wiggins said. “So there are a lot of ingredients that make this day for special for me, and our coaching staff, and the players who work it, and then the kids who come and participate in our camp.”
One of the players helping out was Jared Nation, who’ll be a senior offensive lineman this fall.
“This camp is awesome,” Nation said. “It’s awesome to take a day off from weight training and help with the community. It’s great trying to teach these kids some technique, and also watch them have fun. It’s great.”
Senior wide receiver Jacob Freeman remembers attending the camp when he was younger and his older brothers KeShun and Michael were instructors while they were standout players at Callaway.
“I attended it as many times as I possibly could,” Jacob Freeman said. “I loved being around the Callaway players.”
Freeman said “it’s very fun” to now be in the role as a camp instructor.
“We were just over there in the corner talking about when we came (as campers), and we’d have people like Michael, Braylon (Sanders), KeShun, and all those people,” Freeman said. “So it’s kind of a reversed role, and we’re happy to do that. That’s what we all wanted to do was one day play for Callaway.”
Matt Napier, who has been Callaway’s offensive coordinator since Wiggins became head coach in 2005, believes giving the campers an opportunity to be around the high-school players is part of what makes the day so meaningful.
“Always having the seniors being a big part of the camp is a big deal,” Napier said. “We have a real supportive fan base and all of these kids come to the game on Friday night to watch these guys play, and to put a face to the jersey number is special to our community. And I know our players, they’re chomping at the bit to come out here and do it every time.”
Napier, whose sons were on the field on Wednesday morning, calls the camp “a family deal.”
“After this many years of us doing it all together and coaching together, it’s gone through several generations of guys,” Napier said. “You can see it out here, there are several kids that are sons of players we’ve had. And my boys have done it the last several years, and that’s a cool thing for them to come out here.”