Guests boost rep, ‘reps’ in K-town football camp
June 20, 2009
MIESAU, Germany — Three hours into the second annual Kaiserslautern Football Developmental Camp, K-town high school senior-to-be tackle Andrew Holgate realized he was on to something good.
"He’s shown me things I’ve never even heard of," Holgate enthused Friday about some of the tips and techniques imparted to him in the camp’s first on-field session by his position coach, Arizona Cardinals nose tackle Gabe Watson.
"They’ll improve me immensely going into my senior year and for college."
At 6 feet 4 inches and 329 pounds, Watson, who played for the Michigan Wolverines from 2002-2005, was an obvious center of attention for the 45 campers, some of whom sacrificed part of their lunch break to chat with the man whose last game action in 2009 was in the Super Bowl.
Watson told them he’s here to try to give something back.
"Rick Courtright (defensive backs coach for the Cardinals, who’s also instructing here) came last year and told me about visiting the wounded soldiers at Landstuhl," Watson said. "I want to do that, too. These are guys fighting and going to war so that we can have what we have."
Watson and Courtright are joined on the coaching staff by Matt St. Germain, defensive line coach and defensive coordinator at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass.; Justin Shannon, assistant defensive backs coach at Tennessee Tech; and quarterbacks coach Brad Paulus, who recently left Stonehill. The camp runs through Saturday.
In addition to showing their appreciation for the U.S. military community, they’re providing a level of instruction unprecedented in a camp on this side of the Atlantic.
"This is the best camp I’ve ever been to in Europe," said Hohenfels running back Joshua Cooper, who’ll be a senior next season. "It’s early-on, but here you get a lot more reps than we do at the DODDS camp."
"Reps," for the uninitiated, is the football community’s term for "repetitions," deemed the key to success at the game. The more repetitions a player has at various activities, it’s believed, the smoother things will go under game conditions. With its low coach-player ratio, the K-town camps provides "reps" impossible to duplicate in the 500-player football camp run by DODDS in August.
"With so many players, the DODDS camp is mainly a conditioning camp," said Roy Bolton, who conceived this camp and made it happen the last two years. "This is a techniques camp."
Bolton’s son, Thomas, who quarterbacked Ramstein to the 2008 European Division I championship, is using this camp to prepare for fall practice at Wittenberg University in Ohio, but the elder Bolton stressed that producing college players isn’t the camp’s main goal.
"The idea of this camp is to give anyone who wants to learn the skills of the game a chance to do it," he said. "We want to give them a chance to play the game better."
Bolton added that the camp also is intended to help military families.
"We’re here to help these kids learn the game of football," he said, "without having to go to the expense of traveling back and forth to the States for camp."
Bolton said many coaches think the K-town camp, with a level of instruction more elevated than that to which Europe is accustomed, is designed solely for those who, like his son, are college football material. But that is not the case.
"We’ve got to change the mind-set of the DODDS coaches," he said. "Lots of them discouraged players from attending by saying the camp benefits only those with the talent to play in college. The camp is for anyone who wants to learn skills that will make him a better player."
Running back Kewin Nielsen of SHAPE, a junior-to-be and also an All-Europe soccer player, said he’s attending the camp to help him define his athletic path.
"My future is wide open between soccer and football," said Neilsen, who’s been playing football for three years and is eyeing a chance to kick in college. "This is great opportunity to improve my skills."