Champs Return to Coach Youth Football Camp
Players may graduate from the Owatonna High School football team, but they never truly leave the program. A large number of members of the OHS coaching staff are Indians or Huskies graduates. Plus many other graduates come back to the stadium field each year to help lead the youth football camp.
Many players from the 2017 and 2018 state championship teams were on hand to help with instruction for the over 200 players entering third through tenth grade signed up for the camp this year. Graduates gave numerous reasons for coming back to help the future Friday night lights players.
Chris Lewis said, "You miss it. you miss it a lot when you graduate and you go on." Kade Serbus commented, "It's fun to see the kids around working, having fun. It's just nice." Alex Raichle said, "I like seeing the kids progressively get better each and every day and coming out and supporting them." He remembers looking up to the players and coaches when he attended as a youth.
Nick Staska pointed out that a chance to reunite with his championship teammates is a highlight, "It's fun to come back and just being on the field again is just an honor because we have so many memories on the practice field and on the game field." He embraces the role of being a role model for the young group, "They've seen how successful we are and hopefully that inspires kids to play football."
Mason Oland said the desire to play still burns in him, "I just miss football that much, couldn't help but come back and coach up the kids." Joseph Stansky likes the chance to pay forward after being on the receiving end, "A lot of the guys helping me out when I was younger, so it's kind of my way of giving back. And the coaches asking you to come help and they did a lot for you so you owe it to them to help them here at the camp."
Owatonna graduate and athletic hall of fame member Matt Skala took over as camp organizer last year from Marc Achterkirch after his hiring as OHS Activities Director. Skala said having former players come back is great, "It makes it pretty special that they want to come back and give back to Owatonna football." There are over 75 volunteer coaches involved.
Skala added, "Football is such an amazing game. It's a fun game and there's a lot of lessons to be learned." Despite some stormy weather on Monday's opening night of the youth camp, he said there was a buzz of excitement.
The camp has been running for over 20 years in Owatonna. The younger players get exposure to the skills of all positions. Older players pick a position on offense and defense to focus on. The camp features quick-moving, carnival-type stations at times in addition to a variety of games.