Last week, a group of Colusa RedHawk players had the opportunity to see the football field from a coach’s perspective, while the group of Colusa Cowboys youth football players they were coaching got the opportunity to learn from the some of older athletes they idolize.
About 15 youth football players took part in this year’s Colusa County Youth Football Clinic at Colusa High School, where they gained football knowledge from high school coaches, as well as RedHawk players. The focus at the clinic was on fundamentals – from proper stretching, warm ups, and agility drills, to position-specific skill sessions for both offense and defense. Each step of the way, a RedHawks player was helping to run the drills – offering words of encouragement or advice as they went. While organizer Jim Pingrey said that participation this year was down significantly – last year’s clinic drew more than 60 youth players – that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for the youth players who were able to attend this time around. The smaller number of youth players meant that they had more one-on-one instruction time with coaches.
Strengthening the connection between the Colusa Cowboys and Colusa High School football programs is a driving force behind the Colusa County Youth Football Clinic. Pingrey said that the high school players’ participation in the clinic is crucial to making the clinic – and the Cowboys’ youth program as a whole – a success.
“I think it’s the main thing, because in a way, (the high players) are role models,” Pingrey said. “I’m actually trying to make them realize that more than anything, I’m doing it for them. I’m making them realize that they’re role models, and when they come out on Friday night, there’s a lot of people looking up to them.”
Colusa High School head coach Matt Jessee said that the clinic was a great experience for his players.
“It’s great. It’s also an opportunity for them to understand what it’s like for the coaches, and that it isn’t always easy,” Jessee said, adding that it benefits his players on the field, too, as they get mental repetitions by coaching the kids on their fundamentals.
It’s great for the youth players, too, said Allen Sheley, who is coaching the Cowboys’ Midget team this year.
“In a nutshell, it gets the kids prepared for when they start practice… We’re lucky to have guys like Pingrey and Coach Jessee, who take the time out of their schedule and practices to come out and coach them on the fundamentals, so that when we get the kids started at practice, they are already two steps ahead of the game,” Sheley said. He added that when the youth players are afforded the privilege of learning from the players they watch on Friday nights, it adds to their commitment to the sport.
“I think it’s important that they realize the importance of giving back,” Pingrey said of the RedHawks players who helped last week. “Because everybody is here on Fridays to watch these guys, and these kids are going to look up to them. They’re going to be watching, and hopefully paying attention.”