For Huntingdon College football coach Mike Turk and his assistant coaches, putting on the seventh annual Camellia Bowl youth clinic at Cramton Bowl was as much about having fun as it was teaching.
Approximately 125 participants, ages 6-14, worked out on the Cramton Bowl turf for more than two hours on Thursday and Turk made sure each group worked at every position during the clinic.
“They all like to throw the ball and they all like to catch the ball and they love hitting the dummies,” Turk said. “Those are the ones they love the most, that and the (two) water stations. The best thing about it is the kids that are already playing. Linemen get to be a quarterback for a little while and a running back for a little while and a receiver for a little while. And then it’s really good for the guys that play the skill positions to learn what the big guys do.”
Antwan Scott, 14, an eighth grader at Valiant Cross Academy, said the clinic was informative for a player about to try his hand at outside linebacker in the high school ranks.
“This is my first time here,” he said. “I had a good experience. They’re teaching the stuff I knew, but more of it. My favorite position drill was for linebackers. We got to tackle the dummies.
“I learned more about wrapping up on tackling and slanting (to the ball carrier).”
The participants were divided according to age and rotated among nine stations, focusing on fundamentals such as blocking, tackling and the proper way to play a position, along with the normal skill routines such as throwing and catching the ball.
“The key to a youth camp is having small groups,” Turk said. “We have seven position coaches and two water stations, so we divided them into nine groups. It’s much better for learning.”
The youth clinic, sponsored by Alabama Power Company, is older than the bowl game itself. The first was held on July 15, 2014 at Alabama State University because the turf at Cramton Bowl was being replaced. The clinic was organized by Pro-Start Academy’s Gary Burley and included several former collegiate players, including Alabama’s Chris Rogers, a native of Montgomery, and former Crimson Tide wideout Pierre Goode.
UAB coach Bill Clark was in charge of the next two clinics at Cramton Bowl in 2015 and 2016. Turk took over in 2017 and has been in charge of the clinic ever since. Thursday’s clinic was the first in three years after the 2020 and 2021 clinics were canceled by the COVID pandemic.
“I’m very thankful to Johnny (Williams) and his (Camellia Bowl) staff for allowing us to do it,” Turk said. “I grew up here, this is home for me, so growing the game of football in our city is important to me. I’m honored to be a part of it.”