Creating new traditions

Alpena football program wraps up first Future Champions Camp

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Kids attending the first annual Alpena Football Futures camp are given instructions by Wildcat coaches and current players before they begin a drill on Wednesday at Alpena High School.

Changing the culture and beginning new traditions are what the Alpena football program has started to do since last season when head coach Aaron Sims took over.

On Wednesday, the Wildcat football program wrapped up its first Future Champions Camp that consisted of potential future Wildcats ranging from grades one through six. The camp began on Monday with each participant performing several drills run by current Alpena coaches and players.

“This is an opportunity to work with young Wildcats and get them excited about playing football, whether they are playing this year or in the future,” Sims said. “It’s also an opportunity for our varsity guys to come down and work with the young guys and really start that tradition of building that camaraderie, that brotherhood, the big Alpena Wildcat football family. I think this is a big step for us and an important tool for us in building our program.”

The camp was a perfect combination for both current and possibly future Wildcat football players. Several varsity players put in the time to help the three day camp be a success. Each player worked at certain drills that focused on certain skills to help the younger athletes.

Not only did the teaching benefit the young campers, but the current varsity players were able to teach the younger players some of the things that they are going to be working on during the course of the season.

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Campers participate in a game of air force football during the final day of the first annual Alpena Football Futures camp on Wednesday at Alpena High School.

“This is a perfect way to continue some of the things that have been done for me. When I was a kid I would come to camps like this and there were players I really looked up to as a kid and remembered what they taught me so I wanted to be apart of teaching younger kids and be a good role model,” Alpena varsity senior Ian Smith said. ”

The camp consisted of a number of activities each day beginning with dynamic stretches so everyone is loose to avoid injuries. There was also different agility drills added in during each day of the camp. Everyone participated in the stretches and agility drills along with Alpena’s scoop and score drill before the campers were separated into different groups as they continued drills at three different stations that each camper got the opportunity to be involved in.

Along with the stations, certain varsity players would allow campers the opportunity to learn and take part in drills in a certain position.

After working hard at different stations in different drills, the campers got to play a game of air force football on Wednesday as the camp came to a close and each day the kids were treated with popsicles and other snacks.

“My hope is that Friday nights in the fall when we make our tunnel on the field that these kids come out and make our tunnel and remember all of these guys that they worked with during this camp,” Sims said. “The kids (have) got to have fun and there’s no point in it if we’re not having fun, so that was our goal to come out and have fun, let the kids have a good experience and let them enjoy the game of football and come back in the future.”

This Future Champions Camp will be an event that Sims and the Wildcat football program will likely hold for years to come. The goal is to continue getting more kids involved and see numbers grow each year that the program holds the camp.

“I would love to fill up the entire practice field with stations and kids. We take both girls and boys and for our first annual camp I was happy with the outcome,” Sims said. “The kids had a great time, they all got a great experience, they all had fun and we had a lot of smiles. It’s been a good experience not only for the young bucks, but our older guys too.”

Jonny Zawacki can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5690.