The Value Of Kids’ Sports Camps

Chris Teves, David Maeva, Eddie Klaneski, Brian Ayat, Jeremy Inferrera, Chad Owens, Mel Purcell, Nate Ilaoa and Jody Tyrell. Seated are Ama Gonsalves and Joshua Iloreta, football fans who were presented with signed football and camp T-shirts

“Foot fire!”

That phrase is imprinted in my mind forever. No, it doesn’t mean I have athlete’s foot or took up walking on hot coals as a hobby. Instead, it’s a basketball term used by former University of Hawaii at Manoa star player and coach Bob Nash.

He barked this phrase throughout a UH basketball camp I attended at the Stan Sheriff Center awhile back. It was meant to get our feet moving, whenever we were on defense. In other words, if your feet weren’t on fire, you weren’t playing good defense. This camp, along with the other ones I took part in, from the UH-Hilo Vulcan Basketball Camp on the Big Island to the clinics hosted on Kaua’i, are so crucial to a young athlete’s confidence and mindset.

That’s why I feel more of these camps or clinics need to be in play for youths to take advantage of. Kauai is often left with few of these opportunities throughout the year.

But one small step is being thrown our way, thanks to the recent breakthrough of the first-ever Chad Owens All-Star Camp. It was held at the Kapa’a New Town Park on May 10, but organizers were so impressed with the results, they’re already preparing for the second annual event.

“They gave it 100 percent, this was not just some kind of promotional event,” camp coordinator Teddy Arroyo says. “These kids and the coaches learned a lot.”

Altogether, 93 youths ages 7-16 took part in the event. Besides Owens, other former college players who attended were David Maeva, Nate Ilaoa, Jeremy Inferrera, Jody Tyrell, Eddie Klaneski, Brian Ayat and Mel Purcell.

“They didn’t give the kids time to linger around, they were like their own personal coaches,” says Arroyo who is with Lihue Pop Warner. “I was kind of blown away.”

Arroyo says the campers got the chance to sign up for the position they wanted to play and then broke up into groups, each with different instructors.

Campers and coaches at the Chad Owens football clinic. Plans are underway for 2011

Special awards, a signed football and camp T-shirt were given to both Josh Iloreta and Ama Gonsalves. Both have overcome challenges in life and have continued to love the game of football.

“This is a stepping stone for us,” Arroyo says. “We have contacted Brian Derby to bring his football camps down here as well.”

Derby, a well-known coach, hosts camps in Utah, Oregon, Alaska, Japan and Hawaii, but he’s never held one on Kaua’i.

Arroyo says it wasn’t easy putting this camp together, but after seeing how motivated the kids were after the camp, it was well-worth the effort.

“Talk about being motivated speakers, they were more than that,” he adds. “They stressed there’s more to life than football. Education is important, and so is staying away from bad temptations like drugs. They also told the kids to be good role models and to give back.”

And in the end, giving back is really what this is all about. That’s what Coach Nash was doing when he taught us campers back then about “Foot fire!”

It left me with lessons learned both on and off the court – even if it burned at times.

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