Puyallup: Sports

Sumner High football players learn valuable leadership skills while working youth camp

Griffin Clark, center, tries to avoid a tag while playing Sharks and Minnows to warm up during Sumner youth football camp at Sunset Chevy Stadium in Sumner on July 20.
Griffin Clark, center, tries to avoid a tag while playing Sharks and Minnows to warm up during Sumner youth football camp at Sunset Chevy Stadium in Sumner on July 20. jbessex@gateline.com

Sumner High and coach Keith Ross held their annual Spartan kids football camp as 104 campers came out to the four-day event last week at Sunset Chev Stadium.

With activities running rampant on Thursday, there was an unmistakable feeling that something great was happening.

With a team that went undefeated in league play while claiming the 3A South Puget Sound League title, there’s plenty of stars on Sumner’s roster that had campers excited from the get-go.

“The kids love coming out here, having the chance to work with the guys who they think of like superstars,” Ross said. “They come up to a lot of the guys like Connor (Wedington), or Tre (Weed) or Luke (Ross) wanting to get their autographs or pictures with them. The (players), they embrace that leadership role with the community.”

It was hard to tell who was having more fun at the camp as the coaches who ran the drills and events tended to blend into chorus of laughter and excitement.

This year, Ross brought back one of the more popular events at his football camps by re-implementing the pass and kick competition, where campers were challenged to see who can either throw the ball or kick it the farthest.

“The 7- and 8-year-olds are getting it past the 20 (yard line) — that’s been kind of surprising,” said Griffin Clark, who’s working his first camp as a coach after spending years as a camper.

It didn’t matter where the coaches played on the Sumner football team, they were all all-stars to the campers.

Sometimes that excitement boiled over as coaches would jump into the action, re-creating the childhood they remembered coming to the camp.

“The kids are having as much fun as the coaches,” right tackle Chase Skuza said.

Even with the fun and games, there was an understanding about what Ross wants his players to take away from these days at Sunset Chev. It’s a connection to a community. It’s giving back in order to gain so much more down the road.

“I’ve learned how to be a leader (coaching) at these camps,” quarterback Luke Ross said. “You’re put into that role in being a role model, and that forces you to have to be a leader to these kids.”

And by leading by voice and example, Luke Ross added.

If that was the goal of the Spartan football camp, then Sumner’s camp was a raving success.

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