Stillwater News Press

Sports

July 10, 2012

Kids, coaches push each other to have fun at football camp

STILLWATER, Okla. — As Cael Hughes made a diving catch during Tuesday’s Pioneer Kids Football Camp, nearby his dad couldn’t help but smile.

Hughes’ dad is Stillwater High School assistant coach Jeremy Hughes.

“I don’t know where he got those hands but it wasn’t from me,” said Jeremy Hughes, who serves as Pioneers’ co-defensive coordinator. “It must have been from his mom. It’s pretty fun to get to interact with your own kids in that setting, too. It’s kind of cool to get to be their coach, and I’m definitely looking forward to that when they get older.”

Whether it’s coaching his own two sons or coaching other players, Hughes said just getting to know the kids at the camp makes it all worth it.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Hughes said. “They’re fun to be around. They’re always excited. It really is key to our program to get these kids out here and introduce them to us and introduce them to some of our players. If you’re a little kid, you think it’s really cool to come out on the big field and see some of the high school players helping out with the drills and things like that.”

Most campers would be intimidated by the size of the high school players, but not this bunch. In fact, this year’s group made it their goal to make sure the high schoolers got in their conditioning.

Not only did the high school players have to keep everybody in order, some of the players even volunteered to do 25-yard bear crawls everytime a pass was completed.

“Like coach (John) Weaver said, sometimes it’s like herding cats when it comes to these kids,” Stillwater quarterback Taggart Brown said. “Sometimes they may not listen, but that’s just part of being a kid. I know I was that way too when I was their age. I just try to think back to what it was like to be a kid and how people got my attention. I always ask myself, how did I learn things better? That really helps when I’m trying to coach them.”

Hughes said seeing his high school players reward the campers for correctly doing a drill also helps reinforce the fundamentals that are being taught during the camp.

“Fundamentals are important at any level,” Hughes said. “If you get them started with the right fundamentals when they’re younger, then you can build on those as you go. So it’s good to see those high school kids helping out and reinforcing how to do things the right way.”

According to Hughes, the camp focuses on offense more than defense because of the lack of padding. Still that doesn’t keep Hughes from recruiting a couple of players — including his two sons — to the defensive side of the ball.

“Offense is just more fun in a camp like this,” Hughes said. “These kids like to have the football in their hand — especially on the big field. It makes them feel like they’re making the big play for Stillwater on a Friday night.

“As long as my kids are just out here having fun, I don’t care where they want to play. Obviously my heart is on the defense, but if they want to be a receiver or running back and that’s what they like to do, then I’m happy for them. It’s hard being a coach, but I try to step back and just be Dad when they’re on the field.”

As far as the future goes, Brown said he has already seen some players who will be stars for the Pioneers by the time they reach high school.

“I think the future of our program looks pretty good,” Brown said. “In a couple of years, I expect some of these kids to start for us when they get to the high school level. It’s really is exciting to watch. We went from 1-9 to 8-3 last year and we just keep getting better and better. These kids certainly have the talent to carry on that tradition in the future.”

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