More than 200 participants showed up for the fourth annual Camellia Bowl youth clinic presented by Alabama Power despite the inclement weather that threatened Cramton Bowl on Thursday morning.
“We had great weather, despite the early threat of rain, and a tremendous turnout, close to 240 kids,” Camellia Bowl executive director Johnny Williams said. “I think everybody had a good time. It’s obvious that they did by looking at their faces as they leave.”
With a nervous eye on the overcast skies, Huntingdon College head football coach Mike Turk and his staff took their first turn at directing the clinic, putting participants as young as 6 years old through a series of drills over a three-hour period.
“We knew there would be a lot of kids and that was probably one of the most challenging things we’ve ever tried to do from a numbers standpoint,” Turk said. “I thought our coaches did a really good job of keeping the kids busy and rotating them through the stations and making sure each one of them got a chance to play each position. We taught the fundamentals of tackling as well at one station. I’m happy the way the day went. The kids seemed to have fun and everyone seems pleased.”
While several of the participants have been to the Camellia Bowl youth clinics in the past, this one had a different feel. Instead of sending potential linebackers to work out with the linebackers coach, all of the participants took turns rotating through each position which meant, for example, that every participant got to play quarterback under the watchful eye of quarterbacks coach Tarvaris Jackson, the former 10-year NFL veteran who started games for the Vikings and the Seahawks.
Participants wrapped up their drills on the Cramton Bowl turf at noon, then stepped into the air-conditioned Multiplex in the South end zone of the stadium for a lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers provided by bowl officials.
Tobarie Burton has brought Crawford and other members of the West End Boys and Girls Club to the Camellia Bowl youth clinic every year since its inception in 2014.
“Any chance you get for kids to come out and hear from college coaches and get a chance to come to Cramton Bowl and live that experience of being in a big stadium and learn football fundamentals, it’s great for the kids in our community,” he said. “A lot of these kids may never get to experience going onto the Cramton Bowl field and getting the opportunity to come into the Multiplex, so getting them outside of their normal daily routine is always beneficial.”