EL JEBEL — Brandon Lloyd knows residents of Garfield County and the Roaring Fork Valley don’t get this chance very often.
“Kids up in the mountains don’t get a chance to see professional athletes around here all that much,” said the former Denver Broncos wide receiver at the Brandon Lloyd Football Camp on Thursday at Crown Mountain Park. “Plus, this is a very casual reminder of what kind of benefits football can bring to kids, and that’s the thing I like the most about the camp.”
Now in its second year, the football camp’s popularity had increased after it drew 94 participants in the summer of 2012. This year, the camp’s registrations jumped to 113, with organizers projecting and proposing a registration cap of 120 players next season. Campers range from 5 to 14 years old.
Obviously, part of that comes from the presence of Lloyd, who has played for six NFL teams and was a wide receiver for the New England Patriots in 2012. But much of it comes from the diversity and intimacy of the camp, which features eight separate workout stations and a chance to play games on the second day of the camp, which concludes today.
“We want to expose them to every aspect of football,” said Mitch Levy, a football coach at Basalt Middle School who organized the camp. “It’s a great sport, and there’s a position on the field for everyone. We want to help them find that position.”
And, obviously, having a pro football player at the camp helps get a few of those players.
“When some of these kids go home saying stuff about how they just completed a pass to a pro football player, they remember that for a long, long time,” Levy said.
Lloyd, obviously, was a big part of the camp aside from having it named after him. He’d smile, encourage kids and help coach players at each station. At the end of each day, he holds an open autograph session for the campers, who will compete against each other on five football fields during today’s camp session.
That intimacy with Lloyd and the campers is something organizers don’t want to lose, even though they want the camp to continue as an annual event. This year, 18 USA Football-certified coaches from Basalt to Glenwood Springs helped do coaching sessions at the camp, which costs just $50 per participant for the two days. More participants, organizers feel, would diminish the quality of instruction at the camp.
“Plus, it gives Brandon more of a chance to work with the kids,” said Chris Woods, executive director of Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District. “If we went up to 200 kids, those kids wouldn’t be able to get the same kind of experience that they’re getting now.”
Woods met Lloyd in Snowmass a while back, and Woods was the one who asked Lloyd if he’d be interested in hosting a football camp in the area as the two developed a friendship. The idea has obviously reaped some rewards — in more ways than one.
“We’ve got a lot of kids here who have never played football before,” said Ray Alexander, who has been an assistant football coach at Glenwood Springs Middle School and also helps coach with Three Rivers Youth Football. “Here they get to come out and meet a pro football player and learn a lot about the game. That goes a long way.”
“It’s a great sport, and there’s a position on the field for everyone. We want to help them find that position.”
Brandon Lloyd Football Camp organizer