With the summer months coming down to a close, the gridiron of Bullard High School’s Panther Stadium was filled last week with young talent, as the Bullard Panther athletic department held the annual Panther Football Summer Camp Tuesday through Thursday, Aug. 1-3.
“This camp is not only a great opportunity for these kids to come in and work on their football skills and abilities, but also a chance for us as a program to interact and work with the kids in our community,” said Scott Callaway, Bullard Independent School District athletic director and Panther football head coach. “Many of these kids are already signed up to play youth football in Bullard, while some of them may not be signed up but have in interest in the sport of football and being a future Panther.”
Students entering the grade levels of Kindergarten through eighth grade in the 2017-2018 football season were able to get the first tastes of football camp this year, participating in the session from 7:30-9 a.m.
For the younger students, the camp focused on the common ground of the necessary fundamentals for the sport, despite some who might have more experience playing football than others.
“Some of these kids at the younger camp had a base foundation of football, while some did not, which we had to take into account,” said Callaway. “We wanted to start at ground zero for everyone’s benefit, so we broke the kids up by age groups and worked with each kid on the basics of the game. We also wanted them to have fun learning how to warm up, promote safety, eating right and nutrition, staying active during the summer, among other things.”
In the second session of the camp for incoming ninth grade students, the camp served as a way to introduce prospective Panther football freshmen to what they’ll be expected to do throughout the season.
“The UIL allows us to have a freshman camp before the start of the annual two-a-day practices each year,” said Callaway. “This camp is a way for us to introduce them to the high school level of football and give them a head start going into the fall season and allowing them to look at what they’ll see scheme-wise, offensively, and defensively. In addition to the skills we worked on with these young men, we also worked on the terminology that we use as a program, so they have a jump on that compared to those who did not attend the camp and will catch up later on.”
Throughout the camp, the goal for Callaway and his staff was to keep the camp fun and interesting for the young athletes, while also teaching them how to be successful as an individual player and as a team in order to help the entire program succeed in the future.
“As a program, we want football to be a fun game for these younger kids and let them have a great experience learning the fundamentals of the game and have a good time,” said Callaway. “We use this opportunity to begin the teaching in the progression of their fundamentals, as well as what we want to accomplish as an athletic department.”
Besides the skills and abilities worked on and gained at the camp, Callaway said he hopes the young athletes walked away from the event with a sense of the athletic department’s focus on character and academics.
“We want football to be the medium that we use to teach these kids what we’re focusing on as an athletic department in terms of our emphasis on their academics and high character,” said Callaway. “We want to make sure we’re raising up the next generation of young men with outstanding character to become outstanding future husbands, fathers, and citizens.”
As the young athletes gained football knowledge during the camp, Callaway also emphasized the importance of athletes contributing their skills and abilities to all Panther and Lady Panther sports programs, as well as other extra-curricular activities.
“We really want our athletes to become multi-sport athletes,” said Callaway. “I know that kids have goals and some aspire to reach the next level, but I think sometimes we miss out on having fun through other sports in middle school and high school. As the athletic director and head football coach here at Bullard, I want to have a universal ‘everybody all-in’ athletic program. I want them to be able to go from one sport to another and make a contribution to each program, which will allow our teams to build and achieve championships.; I may have an outstanding football player who can use his talents and abilities to help make the baseball team stronger. I also want our athletes to be involved in other extra-curricular activities such as band, FFA, UIL Academics, and more, allowing us to be the best school in East Texas.”
Callaway called the annual Panther Football Summer Camp a way to connect the high school football program with the Bullard Youth Football Association in the hopes of keeping the two programs on the same page.
“This is a connection into our youth football program in Bullard,” said Callaway. “I’ve spoken with James Melhart with the Bullard Youth Football Association in reference to the alignment through our youth leagues. I really want us to be one big program, from our flag football kids to the high school student athletes underneath the Friday night lights at Panther Stadium; we are all Panthers.”