Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Pincher Creek Mustangs, two Stampeders, and a Roughrider prepare for 2016 football season

Josh Davis

The Pincher Creek Mustangs' annual Stamps Camp turned into Stampeders/Roughrider Camp this year.  On May 6 and 7 twenty-seven young athletes got the chance to hone their footballs skills with three professional athletes: defensive lineman Quinn Smith and wide receiver Anthony Parker of the Calgary Stampeders, and running back Matt Walter of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (who is a former Stampeder). The weather at Matthew Halton Field was perfect for the occasion.  This training event has been going on for more than a decade, and according to Mustangs maven Faith Zachar, the turnout was typical of previous years, but with more seniors  than usual. These dedicated athletes continued practicing through their lunch breaks. The event included a number of athletes from Cardston, as well as from Crowsnest Pass and the Pincher Creek area.

“You know, it’s just a lot of fun,” said Matt Walter. “We were thinking we’d have a smaller group, but a lot of kids came out here. The best part is they’re all hustling and having a good time, you know. You don’t want kids being complacent of lazy. You want them having fun. And we think they’ve been having a great time, and at the same time, getting better at football. So, it’s a win-win.” Walter said that if the CFL is ever going to get to the same level as the NFL it’s important to start at the grassroots level. “I think having pros like us come in and show these kids, you know, the basics of work ethic and how to play, that’s going to go a long way. Hopefully it inspires them to continue on their own path, and go up through the High School ranks. If they love football they’ll get it done.”

This was Anthony Parker's fourth year as a guest teacher for Stamps Camp, “It’s nice to see the kids are really involved, they’re excited to be here, and they’re out there having fun,” said Parker. “You know, sometimes you get kids that don’t really want to be there, whatever the situation is, so it’s nice. They’re excited, they’re working hard, having fun, and it makes our job a lot easier.”

Parker said that they worked on the basics on day one. “For me it was some footwork, a little bit of catching, stuff like that. From there we progressed into some more football specific stuff, we worked on some special teams in terms of catching punts, how to read punts, things like that. Then today we got a little more into some scrimmage environment, and got them playing a little bit of touch football.”

“It’s been great. The kids are full of energy,” said Quinn Smith. “A lot of skilled players are out here, so it’s pretty competitive. You can tell the kids really want to go at ‘er, so we’re just trying to make sure they don’t get any injuries out here, from going to hard.” Smith said he worked on the group with tackling techniques on the first day. “A lot of times you’ll see the NFL guys just spearhead, just like Superman, going headfirst, and that’s really the wrong way to tackle, because you can really get a lot of concussion injuries.” Smith was complementary of Pincher Creek. “I’ve never been here before, but I’ll sure be back. Everyone in this town that I’ve met so far has been really nice, and I’d like to come back next year and do it again. I’d also just like to thank Faith (Zachar) for having us out here. She’s doing a wonderful thing out here for these kids.”

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