According to head coach Steve Jervis, Lackawanna Trail football is all about two words: Lion Pride.
Every aspect of Monday and Tuesday’s 11th Annual Lion Cub football camp centered around the concept.
“Players learn the importance of Lion Pride, which is much more than simply two words,” explained Jervis.
“We want to instill the Lion Pride mentality and a sense of community, something that starts as a Junior Lion and carries on through,” said senior Nico Berrios. “And most importantly, we hope for them to have fun and love the game of football.”
Lion pride starts when the players first don the red and black and continues all the way up through the rest of the players’ lives.
This was evidenced by this year’s guest speaker, Trail class of 2004 graduate Colin Golden. Golden also went on to excel at Slippery Rock University, where he was described as “One of Rock’s “go-to” guys, a blue-collar type receiver who makes the tough catch over the middle.”
Golden was an All-State wide receiver at Trail.
Golden said, “I am so glad Coach Jervis reached out to me, and that he brings back Lackawanna Trail players. Trail is a wonderful community.”
“Lion Pride is indescribable,” said Golden. “No matter who you are or what position you play, everyone is proud to be a Lion. If you aren’t from Trail, it isn’t something you can describe.”
As for the football aspect, Jervis went on to explain the purpose of the non-contact camp.
“The campers will learn the importance of how to use their body to excel in football as well as being very safety conscious. They will also learn proper form running technique and the fundamentals of offense, defense and special teams. Lastly we stress the importance of teamwork and what it means to be a great teammate,” said the coach.
Of the 40 campers registered, more than half are returners to the two-night clinic. The majority of the kids are from Trail, along with a few from neighboring schools like Mountain View and Abington Heights.
The varsity team is also invested in the nightly routine, as most of the players have been in the same spot as the campers.
Jervis explained, “The majority of our varsity players attended the camp when they were youngsters. Our current seniors were playing on the C team when we began the camp 11 years ago. The varsity members do all of the instruction with close monitoring by our coaching staff. The senior members of each position grouping is in charge of the instruction and drills.”
Berrios added, “From my time with the Junior Lions, my best memories were playing and growing up with all of my friends. My dad was the president of the Junior Lions Football League during my brother and I’s entire Lion cub career.”
“I remember my time not only on the field, but also off the field helping my parents prepare for our home games. I also remember going to the varsity games with all of my teammates and looking up to the older players, wanting to be just like them someday,” said Berrios, a two-year starter for the varsity who will see time this year at quarterback and free safety.
In fact, according to Jervis, that pattern has continued.
“I believe there were some of the campers that made the trip to Hershey,” said Jervis, referring to last season’s silver medal run at States.
“The little kids look up to Coach Jervis tremendously and can’t wait to play for him in the years to come,” reflected Berrios. “I remember being little just like them and thinking of Coach Jervis as big time, like an NFL coach and was eager to impress him and earn his respect.”
Senior Mark Dunckle was another Lion who started his playing career early.
“I like being able to see the little kids grow up and see how they change,” Dunckle said.
The lineman also explained how he encourages the campers to be a part of the team. He said, “Being a lineman isn’t as bad as they think- you get to block and watch the running backs succeed- knowing it was the hard work of the line that got them there.”
Berrios added, “We’re hoping to teach the next generation of Lions the fundamentals of the game of football, and provide a good foundation for them to build off of.”
Golden was able to explain to the campers on Monday night how football can open doors in the future if the campers are willing to invest the dedication and hard work. He learned the importance of discipline and dealing with adversity, both of which are values that allow you to be successful later in life. Lastly, he impressed upon the campers to have dreams like last year’s team and hopefully be able to go back to Hershey.
“Football has opened so many doors for me, ones I never expected. I got a scholarship to college, where I met my wife, and now have my family and a great job,” he explained.
“It is really a dream come true to have my son out on the field I played on,” said Golden. “It is a special feeling.”
As for this season, Jervis admits that losing 13 seniors to graduation will be a factor.
“There is no doubt that we lost some fantastic players from last year’s team, however we have some very good players returning,” he said. “This year’s seniors are going to need to fill the leadership positions that were lost to graduation. We are very fortunate to have a very strong sophomore class coming up from the freshman team. Some of those kids are going to be counted on to fulfill some very critical roles this season.”
In June, the team had a four-times-a-week speed and agility camp where they focused on speed and functional strength drills as well as traditional weight room workouts. Now in July, the Lions incorporate both weight training along with the installation of the pass game from both an offensive and a defensive perspective.
The Lion Cub camp concluded Tuesday night with a fastest man competition as well as a punt, pass, and kick contest. After meetings with the coaching staff and a brief review of the player’s performances, the camp closed with awards and camp tee shirts.