Sunday, May 10, 2015

Stamps Camp returns to Pincher Creek

2015 Stamps Camp participants with Stampeders Rob Cote, Glenn Love, Keon Raymond, and Anthony Parker
Toni Lucas

Pincher Creek had some special visitors on the football field  May 8 and Saturday May 9.  Calgary Stampeders defensive back #25 Keon Raymond, fullback #26 Rob Cote, wide receiver #86 Anthony Parker, and  wide receiver #36 Glenn Love came to teach 30 kids from Pincher Creek, Lethbridge, Claresholm, and Cardston the finer points of football during Pincher Creek Stamps Camp 2015.  The annual training event has been going on for a decade or more.  The kids had the chance to do drills with the professionals, to enjoy being kids during breaks,  to have some mock games with the pros during the Saturday afternoon, and to dig into a pizza feast that was part of the final farewell.

Due to inclement weather, day one of the event was held indoors at the Pincher Creek arena. The next day, Saturday May 9, the sun was shining, the Matthew Halton High School field was (mostly) dry, and the winds were stilled, so they took it outdoors.

C. Davis and T. Lucas photos and video

Keon Raymond explained what Stamps Camp means to him, to the kids, and to the community of Pincher Creek.  "Right now it's fun, because honestly, this is my fourth year coming back to Pincher Creek.  I was telling Faith (Zachar) this is like my second Alberta home, me being from the States, and living in Calgary now.  It's fun to see these kids grow over the year, and get better as football players.  When we come the first thing we teach them is  paying attention, and following directions, and the understanding that if they want to be football players,  on and off the field they have to do those two crucial things first.  We run them through a lot of drills that we run through at practice.  A lot of fundamental things. Me, I teach them how to run, the proper mechanics about running,  Glenn, he's doing a great job of teaching the kids how to react. Cote and Parker are doing a great job of teaching the kids skills that are essential in offense."

Calgary Stampeders Rob Cote, Glenn Love, Keon Raymond, and Anthony Parker
"We have a nice mixture of guys here, and we are teaching the most we can. These kids are very receptive still.  You can tell that with us coming down year in and year out that is definitely helping them to become better football players."  Many of the kids come to camp every year and agree with that assessment.  Cooper Hagley is a Senior Mustang and has been with the program 3 times.  "Oh yeah, for sure, it's great.  It's always fun, I like it."

Being a parent himself, Raymond is very aware of the improvements the Stamps Camp participants demonstrate over time, how much they grow in skills and abilities.  He brings his own children, who join in with the training.  "I was telling all these kids before we got started today 'You guys are so blessed.  You have us come each and every year, because there is no other communities around southern Alberta that has football players consistently coming to them every single year and investing two days of time. You take those things we are teaching you guys on to your season, and you get better at them.   You guys will be awesome football players.'  This is an opportunity that a lot of kids don't have, and they are blessed to have it."

Raymond said that this is a unique camp with the Stampeders.  "This is the only one that we do, here in Pincher Creek.  I think our coaches may do one,  I think they go to Medicine Hat for a day, but it is nothing where we set it down, and we take control of the camp and we run it.  There is a lot of camps in Calgary and things like that, but this one is the best one that we can do."

He has worked closely with Football Booster President Faith Zachar to make the event happen.  "I've got her on speed dial.  She does a wonderful job.  Her love, and her loyalty and dedication to these young athletes and to see minor football in this area I think is huge.  I think you will have a kid continue to do and one of these kids will be in the CFL  one day.  I think if they continue to strive, and take these things we will have a kid playing.  They will be coming back and giving back to your hometown of Pincher Creek.  And then there will be a transition for the next kids to be able to come up to say 'I remember him.  If he did it, I can do it too.'"

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