Matt Light All-Conference Football camp still going strong after starting 30 years ago


By Drew Terhall

GREENVILLE —Matt Light and the Light Foundation hosted their 30th Matt Light All-Conference Football Camp on June 17-18 at Jennings Field.

For 30 years, the foundation has opened the free camp to kids around the area to not only teach them football fundamentals, but also sportsmanship and leadership skills.

Light said this camp has been able to keep going in large part from the unbelievable support from local companies and businesses. They have been able to keep Larry Masters’ vision alive and thriving for the last 30 years.

“When I was a kid, I heard about Coach Masters and what he started here. We teamed up with coach many moons ago and we were just there to support him. Then eventually he said, ‘Hey, I’m going to have to hand it off at some point.’ He handed it off to us. He left us with a heck of a gift and heck of a legacy. We’re just trying to continue what he started so many years ago. For 30 years, this has been a free program that parents and kids can enjoy,” Light said.

About 300 kids attended the two day camp. The campers were put through many different drills led by high school football coaches from around the area. They also got the chance to compete in some friendly scrimmages along the way.

Light said it’s fun to be out there and watch the kids not only learn but also make some plays on the field.

The camp is also meant to teach the kids more than just some football skills. Light said one of the big messages he has told the kids was about how to control aggression.

Football teaches many different lessons and one of those lessons is learning how to control aggression. Light said those types of lessons is what he loves about football. He was one of those kids who liked to run into walls and be physical.

“We put pads on for a reason. It’s supposed to be an aggressive sport. This is a place that if your kid needs to get some aggression out and you like running into things and you like sweating, come out here and celebrate that. I think we’ve lost touch with the fact that it’s okay to be aggressive within the framework of the rules. It’s okay to have aggression and get it out of your system in a constructive manner,” Light said. “Think about the lessons this game teaches a kid that would have applied that aggression somewhere else. But now, they get to do it in a controlled manner with friends who also like to run into walls.”

Out of the 300 kids, 50 of them are seventh and eighth graders who registered for the camp under the Light Leaders’ mentor program. They help out the coaches during two days and learn while in leadership roles.

Light said it’s great to see those kids transition from being campers themselves to leaders. They spend their free time helping out the younger kids while learning a new skill or two.

“They’re helping these coaches out at every station throughout the entire day. They’re helping get these kids in the right lines and get them thinking the right way. It’s awesome to see young people who will sacrifice their time on behalf of someone that they’ve never known and may never see again,” Light said.

The camp is almost a family reunion. Light said they have some coaches and people that have volunteered at the camp for all 30 years.

“Our camp director, Coach (Aaron) Shaffer, has done a phenomenal job here as the Athletic Director. He’s a guy that I played football with back in the day. This is kind of a family run event. I think these kids feel it too. We’re not going to be able to teach them everything in two days. But we’re going to be able to have a lot of fun,” Light said.

Financial support for the Light Foundation’s Matt Light All-Conference Camp has been provided by the following: Touchdown Sponsors: Greenville Moose Lodge, McBo’s Lanes, Schmidt Photography, Jon Coomer Investment Management, and Christopher McKieran. Next up are the First Down Sponsors: Pepcon | Poeppelman Materials Co., Greenville National Bank, Wayne HealthCare, Dairy King, Win Nutrition, VPP, and Greenville City Schools. A nod of gratitude goes to the Second Down Sponsors: Turtle Creek, Flaig Lumber Co., Dave Knapp Ford Lincoln, Prosperity Promotions, Park National Bank, and MM Defense. The Third Down Sponsors stepped up to help, too. Thank you to: Moeller Door & Window, Gordon & DeSantis Orthodontics, Brethren Retirement Community, Dr. Stephen R. Stentzel, D.D.S., Troutwine Auto Sales, Wolf Tent, Cater Box Food Catering, and Zechar Bailey Funeral Home. Thank you to the Fourth Down Sponsors as well: Bruns Animal Clinic, Double M Diner, Walker Construction, Scott Family McDonalds, and Dominos.

Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected].

No posts to display