Over a sea of red and black, Lackawanna Trail head football coach Steve Jervis addressed the boys, both varsity and junior players on Monday at Junior Lion camp.
Jervis, in his tenth season at Trail, was joined at the two-day camp by his entire coaching staff of seven and the varsity team. Also at the camp was guest speaker, Coach Dick Bagnall.
“Ninety percent of these varsity boys here tonight helping out, started out as campers at this very camp,” Jervis said. “It has come almost full circle, these guys were campers when I first got here, now they are leaders.”
With about 40 future Lions registered for no contact camp, this a great tune up for the junior Lions.
Jervis said, “We want to get the kids thinking about football. Almost all of our campers play for the junior team, and the majority of our varsity boys came from the program as well.”
At the nightly camp, the boys are broken down into groups by position and taught the basic fundamentals by the varsity player at that skill position.
Zac Cost, a senior defensive end/tight end, is more appreciative now that he sees how involved the coaching is. He said, “I feel like when I was younger, I didn’t realize how much coach does for the community. He really cares about our community and it makes the program stronger. He doesn’t have to do things like this camp, he wants to.”
Other concepts like teamwork, speed, agility, and proper body angles as well as offensive, defensive and special team specific drills were emphasized.
One of the major points of the camp that Coach Jervis enjoys, seeing that the older kids are actually learning, too. He explained, “There is an old adage that if you can teach it, then you know it. These boys are effective teachers, and that is a good sign for our program.”
Junior defensive end/tight end Kilar Wallace was once one of those campers. “This camp is really good. It is interesting to see that I was once that young and now I am at this level, coaching them the same things I learned at their age.”
Since 2009, Jervis has brought in a motivational speaker to help understand the importance of football in a young man’s life.
This year’s speaker was former Susquehanna Community High School’s Coach Dick Bagnall, now in the Hall of Fame.
Jervis told of Bagnall’s accomplishments.
“A few years ago, a sportswriter likened Trail’s program- a small but competitive school- to that of Susquehanna’s teams under Coach Bagnall, and that was the ultimate compliment to me,” said Jervis.
Bagnall recalled some fun stories, then got serious.
“I have four things to leave with you tonight, whether you play junior, high school, or even college-level football. You will keep these with you for the rest of your life, and stress to your own coaches if you coach,” Bagnall said,
He continued, “I didn’t learn Xs and Os from my dad, who coached a State Championship team and another state runner up. I learned how to coach youngsters, how to coach teams. First, is fundamentals. You use your fundamentals everyday, the more you use them in practice, the easier it makes your game. Everything from stance to footwork and handwork, to proper tackles, how to go for an interception. It’s all in fundamentals.”
“Second is discipline. As a player you must be disciplined. Know the play, the count, the down, how far to the end zone, all of that. Disciplined teams win ballgames, disciplined teams are those with fewer penalties,” he added.
The third step is teamwork. Bagnall said, “Sure you play together, but do you care about each other? As a player, you don’t want to let your teammates down. Always support your guys on every play, every down-don’t get on his case if he fumbles or drops a pass. He knows it was bad, just pick him up. When you yell at a teammate, everything collapses.”
“Finally, step four is to play with heart, play with intensity. From the ground up- the soles of your shoes to your head. Play every down like there is no tomorrow, every play from whistle to whistle. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you have to be able to look yourself in the mirror after each game. Can you say I played hard every play? I did my job? I didn’t let my teammates down? Did you play whistle to whistle? Once you can do that, you’ve played with the heart and intensity needed,” he concluded.
Bagnall parted with advice to all players, “If you use those four things a lot of good things are going to happen.”
Bagnall’s words were inspiring to the campers, who all left the field eager to get back on the gridiron Tuesday night.