GREENVILLE – The 23rd annual Matt Light All Conference Football Camp wrapped up on Tuesday afternoon with 185 kids ages 8 to 14 participating in the free two-day camp at Harmon Field in Greenville.
The camp was hosted by the Light Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Greenville native and three-time Super Bowl champion Matt Light.
“We had another great year,” Camp Director Larry Masters said. “I’m really pleased with how it went.”
In addition to dozens of kids from Darke County, many from Auglaize, Mercer, Montgomery and Shelby counties participated along with some from farther away such as Columbus and Bellefontaine. One boy, Masters’ grandson Preston Shuster, even came all the way from Florida to participate.
“He’s been coming probably since he was about 3 years old, and they live in Florida,” Masters said. “This was the first year he was eligible to take part in camp, and it was fun. We’ve been looking forward to this, and he was too, and he had a great time.”
Camp participation was down slightly this year, dropping from more than 200 kids in recent years to 185 this year. But like all years, Masters said the camp had another great group of kids who were excited to learn more about football.
“I get on them, but they’re really overall a great group of kids,” he said. “I think most of them are all here for the right reasons, and that makes me happy and makes all the coaches happy.”
The campers received instruction from high school coaches including individuals from Ansonia, Arcanum, Bradford and Greenville among others.
“I don’t have trouble ever getting coaches,” Masters said. “In fact I’ve always got three or four guys in the wings saying, ‘hey, if you’ve got an opening let me know.’”
Each kid signed up for an offensive and defensive position and then received instruction from the coaches, who used the same techniques and fundamentals they teach to their high school players. Points of emphasis during the two-day camp included pride, discipline, attitude and team play.
“They’re here to hopefully learn some new football skills and get better there – because they’ve got good coaches – learn what it’s like to work with a group of kids, kids that you don’t know that are new and strangers to you,” Masters said. “And hopefully you walk away from the camp and you’ve made some new friends, maybe you’ve gotten a little bit better at your game, created some interest.”
Each camper was able to attend the camp at no cost because of financial support from the Light Foundation and businesses in the Darke County area.
“I said sometimes you may not appreciate it but you’re getting a lot,” Masters said. “You’re getting a free T-shirt, good coaching, a chance to win some prizes, we have giveaways. I said you get a ton, and it’s all free.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.