A flock of area kids got a good dosage of gridiron fun during last week’s Pintos summer football camp at Moriarty High School.
“We just want to get it out to the community and bring the excitement of football to the little kids, those are your future,” said Moriarty’s head football coach Joe Anaya, who supervised the camp.
More than 30 kids—including one girl—between the ages of 5 and 13 converged on the high school football field for three-days of running, passing, non-contact games, lots of drills, and a challenge called “the gauntlet.”
Anaya said a girl participated last year and he was glad to see one this year. “It’s open to boys and girls, and it’s good agility training for all kids, they’re doing a lot of running and rolling around, and having fun,” he said.
The girl, 10-year-old Sadie Richmond, said she participated because her brothers play football. “I learned a lot, I wanna play football,” she said.
Sadie’s mother, April Richmond, admitted she had mixed feelings about her daughter’s participation, but added, “She’s tough, she can handle it—it’s what she wants to do.”
The first day of the camp focused primarily on offensive drills, the second day on defensive drills, and on the third day the kids were split into groups and played non-contact seven-on-seven games.
More than a dozen varsity football players also helped out—serving as camp coaches. “The athletes actually do the bulk of the work, they do the drills. They do a great job,” Anaya said.
Two of those varsity-player camp coaches were Moriarty seniors Matt Smith and Jose Cano.
“I remember when I was little and they had the football camps. It was a lot of fun,” Cano said. “So, I’m just trying to make it the same, make them love it more.”
“Hopefully these kids will be future Pintos, and this is what we do. It’s what they’ll be doing,” Smith said. “I hope they can see how cool it is just being on the field, how much fun it is.”
Smith’s 4-year-old nephew, Rylen Olivas, voiced his feelings about the camp loud and clear: “I love football! It’s so much fun!”
Each day wrapped up with a circular course consisting of various padded obstacles that the kids had to jump and climb over, crawl under, tackle, and maneuver through. On the last quarter of the obstacle course—called the gauntlet—the coaches held large pads closely together as the kids barreled their way past.
That portion of the activity seemed to be the kids’ favorite as they chanted, “Gauntlet! Gauntlet!” before the start of the activity.
“They love it,” Anaya said. “They see that stuff on TV—it’s like American Ninja Warrior.”