However, it is obvious to all who attend the camp that the campers are not the only ones having fun.
Cass football coach Rick Casko and his coaching staff’s enthusiasm was in midseason form Wednesday, the final day of the youth football camp this week at the high school, as campers got to prepare for their future playing careers as Colonels.
“It’s a passion of myself and all the coaches,” Casko said of the camp. “I’m ecstatic about getting some sixth, seventh and eighth graders in here. You know you’re getting them in a year or two, so we’re just getting them fired up and getting them in the facility.
“Our whole coaching staff is here. They’re absolutely great every year. They Iove to give back to these kids, too.”
Casko has several of his players help out at the camp, including the 25 players who were present Tuesday. Between the players and coaches, there is plenty of individual attention paid to the 37 campers.
“The kids are having a blast. They wish it was eight hours a day and five days a week,” Casko said. “If there were five kids here, they would still be having a good time.”
“I like [camp] because I get to be around my friends from school. I haven’t seen them in a while,” seventh grader James Munasteri, a fullback who attends Cass Middle School, said. “I’ve learned a lot of skills I need to learn that make a big difference.”
The current Colonels also get a chance to help out the campers.
“I think it’s really interesting to see what the kids can do out here,” Cass senior lineman Drake Eddy said. “I’ve helped all four years I’ve been in high school, so it’s cool seeing the kids grow up. I was in this camp when I was in middle school, too. I remember it just being awfully fun.”
Former Cass standout and current linebacker at Georgia State University, Tarris Batiste, stopped by on Tuesday as a guest speaker, creating a trifecta of former, current and future Cass High players at the camp.
The camp starts out with stretching, agility drills and then work on position-specific skills. The camp then moves to games and competition.
“Every day we fluctuate what we do,” Casko said. “We try not to make it redundant. We try to take them through the positions because you never know what they’re going to end up being and you also want them to learn, fundamentally, what those positions do.”
“Then, we get me in the games and they get to do some things competitively. We have relay races and flag football and then they actually play. They love that. The kids want to play. We make them do all the training first, though, so they understand it takes preparation before you play.”
The coaching staff sees plenty of players who may help the team in the future, including 12-year-old Isaiah Gilliam.
“I’m learning a lot about how to do drills and stuff like that,” Gilliam said. “We play flag football and it makes me better playing with people my age.”
The main objective of the camp, of course, is to learn something.
“I ask them every day, did you have fun and did you learn something today?” Casko said. “They all say, ‘yeah.’ They may learn a lot of things that will pertain to their team, but anything they take back is what we want them to do.”
Casko hopes the campers learn about more than just football.
“We talk to them about how important school is,” he said. “It’s about enjoying the high school experience. And moving on to bigger and better things. We talk to them about how important it is to have respect and how to act in school and that sort of thing.”
The Cass football program should continue to hold the camp in the forseeable future.
“It’s great helping out the kids in the community and giving back,” Casko said. “I did it the first year I got here and have done it for the last 10 years. It’s a great experience for us and the campers because you get the kids a little excited about football season coming up and they start to feel it.”
Casko also believes he may be convincing more kids to play football because of the camp.
“Some of the kids came in here and you can tell they’re not that interested in football. And all of a sudden, after the camp, they’re loving it. They’re meeting friends and seeing football,” he said. “It’s all about relationships and having them understand that we really care about them. That’s what’s important.”