At DODDS-Europe camps, 'We try to teach them to play football'
August 18, 2010
BITBURG, Germany — What are the scores of high school coaches and assistants trying to accomplish at the this week’s DODDS-Europe football camps, which end Friday at the former air base here and at Ansbach High School?
“We try to teach them to play football,” Mike Laue, Bitburg High School head coach and director of the West Camp here, said Wednesday.
“This morning, we worked on defense, showing them where to put their feet. We showed the linebackers where their hips should be, which way their shoulders should face and where they should look next — all those things — as a play develops.”
While it’s demanding to ask teens to absorb the myriad techniques special to each position in just 72 hours, Laue said the camp drills can put things into focus for each player.
“More than anything,” Laue said, “we want each player to see what he needs to work on when (individual school) practices starts next week. He can go to practice telling himself, ‘This is where I need to get better.’ ”
Cool, cloudy football weather greeted the 140 campers at Bitburg and the 375 or so at Ansbach’s East Camp on Wednesday morning as both gatherings got down to business in earnest.
Bitburg freshman lineman Devin Billups, who won the camp’s first ninth- and 10th-grade linemen’s 40-yard dash competition in 5.2 seconds, thought the interval-running that led off the Day 1 sessions was appropriate.
“It’s hard work,” said Billups, who attended an offense-defense camp last summer in North Carolina, “but that’s good. It shows respect for the game.”
As well as for the players’ welfare, Laue said.
“We want them to get into condition so they’ll be safe on the field,” Laue said. “The conditioning also helps warm them up. We do a lot of football drills, and a lot of the time, if they’re not warmed up, we get a lot of pulled groins and other muscles.”
Laue also has opened the school’s weight room for the campers to use during any free time, but the instruction matters more than getting into shape to AFNORTH sophomore lineman/fullback Tony Legare.
“I’m hoping to get a little more experience,” said Legare, who attended this camp last August.
“I want to get a more all-around view to make it easier to play whatever position they ask me to.”
And because it’s all new to Legare’s freshman linemate Liam Murphy, the camp has already been worthwhile for him.
“It’s a big help getting to see other people doing the things we have to do,” Murphy said about his first high school football experience.
According to Ansbach junior quarterback Mikael Vicente, the camp experience offers other benefits.
“If we’re not already a team, this is where we’ll bond,” Vicente said Tuesday at Ansbach as the Cougars attending the camp there arranged their air mattresses and sleeping bags along the school hallways.
And where they’ll learn to persevere through the wind sprints, grass drills, iron-pumping and all the other sweaty background tasks that face the football player.
“I expected a lot of hard work,” said freshman back Andrew Draffin of Bitburg, “and it is hard work. But it’s better than sitting at home.”