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Young gridders soak up pro wisdom

To a kid, football is still just a game.

And for nearly 300 area kids this week, the game of football has become a little more fun and lot easier to play.

Throughout the day-long sessions of the Three Rivers Youth Football Association camp at Glenwood Springs High School, kids of all ages, shapes and football ability got to rub shoulders and learn from the pros.



As the kids soaked up every word of instruction from former Denver Bronco great Rick Upchurch and his staff, the young football players were anxious to put what they heard into practice.

And after the brief talk, kids wearing a rainbow of football jerseys suddenly were zipping passes, running plays and making blocks across the span of the high school’s practice field.



“The instructors are very nice, but they don’t let us slack around,” said Brandon Knott, 10, of New Castle.

“They keep trying to help us,” he said of the coaching staff. “When you have someone whose helping you like that, you don’t want to quit. It’s cool having them here. It’s not everyday you can be instructed by a pro.”

Getting a chance to meet a pro football player was enough to influence Cameron Canico, 12, from Rifle to check out the camp in Glenwood.

“That’s the reason I came, because I get the chance to meet the pros,” he said.

Canico’s friend, Crockett Williams, from New Castle, a quarterback and middle linebacker, said he’s already learned a few tricks that will help him when the Three Rivers Youth Football League starts play.

“They told me to take two steps forward before throwing the ball,” Williams said.

What Williams appreciates the most is the time the staff took with him.

“They tell you what your doing wrong, they help you.”

Giving help to better the players skills is the main function of the four-day football camp, which began on Wednesday and concludes Saturday with an appearance of the Bronco Bus, a parent/coaches clinic on sportsmanship and the fundamentals of the game and the opportunity to meet area high school football coaches.

“It was a great day,” said Scott Zerfoss, who coaches a league team in Glenwood, of the first day of the youth camp. “It was unbelievable how many kids showed up.”

Dave Alderson, a New Castle team coach said part of the large turnout was due to the league’s willingness to tie the camp in as part of the 2003 season registration fees.

“It’s a great value. No other youth football league that I know of includes a camp with the pros like ours,” Alderson pointed out.

To a kid, value is not important. Instead, it’s having a good time.

“It’s just fun because the pros know a lot about football,” said Michael Patton, an 11 year-old running back/defensive lineman, who proudly wore his Glenwood Demon jersey to camp.

“This camp just feels different than others I’ve been at. The staff is helping me out so much,” he said.

“Because of that, I want to do my best. When they told us to do 10 push-ups, I did 15.”

Patton’s enthusiasm remained intact long after the first day of camp was dismissed on Wednesday.

“He came home and was so excited. He was still wanting to do football,” said Michael’s mom, Brenda Patton.

In fact, Patton was so excited he couldn’t wait for Thursday’s instruction to begin.

“He thought we were going to be late (instruction begins at 9 a.m.),” his mom said. “And we wound up getting here at 8:30.”

Although the camp concludes this weekend, area kids can still register to play this fall. For more information on the Three Rivers Youth Football League, contact the following coaches: Glenwood Springs, Zerfoss, 945-0318; Aspen, Ron Morehead, 925-3301, New Castle, Alderson, 984-0578; Basalt, Tom Banc, 963-2917; Parachute, Tim Lenard, 625-3913; Rifle, Mike Deere, 625-9523.


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