Grizzlies build pipeline to high school program
Aug 01, 2018 01:53PM
● By Greg James
The Copper Hills Youth Football players were able to work with the high school teams on football skills at its annual summer camp. (Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | [email protected]
As the youth football camp finished up at Copper Hills High School, the participants realized they had learned the importance of their football community.
“These young kids look up to our players,” Grizzlies head coach Corey Dodds said. “Having the high school kids around, it is almost like they are pros. They may even want their autograph when it is all done. The kids say they have their idols on the field teaching them some skills.”
The Grizzly players combined with their coaches to run football drills at the youth camp July 10–12. The youth worked on receiver routes, ball handling, blocking and running skills. They even played some seven on seven. The no-contact camp was held on the high school field in conjunction with the beginning of the Grizzlies summer camp.
“In a way, this is a way to recruit our own kids,” Dodds said. “If we don’t make these kids feel wanted then someone else will try to grab them away from us before they even come to us. It shows the importance of the next man up. We need to show we are part of the Copper Hills Community.”
It has become Dodds’ goal to show kids the benefit of staying at Copper Hills.
“We are trying to be the billboard for our kids to the community,” he said. “Some learn to be leaders and others listen. This is all about relationships.”
The Grizzlies were able to improve by working with the younger players in football-related drills.
“They learn by teaching the younger kids,” Dodds said. “We teach the why of the sport—why it is practical to put your foot in the right place. People say I am trying to run a college setting. I like that. I want kids that want to move on to college. We have been lifting and training since January. They say only 5 percent of football players will come to summer lifting. That correlates to the 5 percent that get college scholarships. It seems to me that if the athlete wants to be D1 then they need to be here.”
Dodds, his coaches and players attend youth football games on Saturday mornings to help develop the pipeline to Copper Hills. He said it builds on the relationship with the school.
“I would hear kids say, ‘That is Coach Dodds.’ That is making a huge difference,” he said. “We have the same goal as the youth program. We want the kids to have success at the youth and then we get more kids. It goes round and round.”
Youth football conference president Elijah Kaio has worked directly with Dodds to improve the connection.
“I love it,” Kaio said. “This is my first year as president, and we have joined with Coach Dodds in trying to bring the community. We have always had numbers in the top five for player involvement at the youth level. By bringing these two organizations together, we hope to make a tight-knit community and be proud of what they are doing.”
Current registration for Copper Hills Youth Football has increased by 13 percent this season. The conference is for ages 7–14. They encourage 15-year-old players to play at the high school.
“Teaching them at the youth level, helping them to have fun—that is important,” Kaio said. “Most will never play past this level, so for them to have fun and make friends is what is important. Plus, it gets them out of the house and getting ready for the season. We are trying to build this community. We want a family feeling. At the end of the day, it is about learning the game we love.”