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Observations of a Father at Nebraska Football’s Youth Camp

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My son had a lot of fun, but honestly I thought it was awesome to be there as well

Minnesota v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Last week I took my eight year old son to Nebraska Youth Football Camp which was held both in Memorial Stadium and the practice facilities. He was excited but I don’t think he quite understood what exactly was going to happen.

As we drove down 180, I pointed at Memorial Stadium and said, “that’s where your camp is going to be held.”

Eight year old: “Whaaaaaat. Now I’m nervous.”

He had a great time at the camp. He was coached up by Ron Brown, caught passes from Barron Miles Jr. (who by the way, may have a rocket of an arm) and got to play pick-up football in the Nebraska practice facility on the turf.

He also made Scott Frost laugh at the end of camp during Coach Frost’s remarks and it was partially my fault.

Whenever I turn a game on the television he always picks which team he is going to pull for and one day the game on included the Chicago Cubs. The eight year old picked the other team and I said, “nope. That ain’t happening. In this house we always pull for Nebraska and the Chicago Cubs. Everything else is fair game. I am a Chicago Bears fan but if you want to root for the Packers or Chiefs then go for it. You can root for any NBA team you want but if it involves the Cubs or Nebraska that is who you will root for in this house.”

Eight year old: “Well what happens if I root for the other team.”

Me: “Then you can get out. I’m serious. It ain’t happening. There are two non-negotiables in this house regarding sports and those are it. Everything else is fair-game.”

So fast forward to last week.

At the end of camp Scott Frost asked the kids to raise their hands if they were Nebraska fans. Pretty much every hand went up. Then Frost asked if there were any there who were not Nebraska fans. A few kids, bravely in my opinion, raised their hands. There were some playful jeers. Then I looked over at my son and he yelled something. Frost looked at him and started laughing.

I asked my son afterwards what he said to make Frost laugh

Eight year old: “I told them that they need to get out.”

I have never been so proud.


With that said, here are some takeaways from the Youth Camp I attended with my son.

First, Don’t Be This Guy

When we walked into Memorial Stadium I saw Coach Ron Brown grab a football and told a group of three or four kids he would throw passes to them. It was fun to watch. Coach Brown was actually coaching them up. The camp hasn’t even started and he was out there coaching.

As one would expect, the line got longer and longer. At one point there were probably about 30-40 kids in the line. They all wanted to try and catch a pass from Coach Brown.

Then a father/grandpa/youth-football-organizer/loser/chaperone/scholarship-hunter/living-his-childhood-vicariously-through-little-kids or whatever walks up to Ron Brown to tell him that he has a kid who could throw some passes as well. Brown sees it as an opportunity to split up the lines so more kids could catch more balls.

Makes sense.

Then I start seeing the kid throw the ball and it looks like he’s been trained to be a quarterback. Then the guy, I described above, puts two kids he obviously knows at the front of the wide receiver line. These kids, from what I can tell, probably play on the same football team with the quarterback he selected or they at least know each other.

So the lines are almost even by now and that kid quarterback throws some nice balls to the other kids and Ron Brown starts thinking this is an opportunity for a competition so he starts counting the number of catches for each side.

Again, it makes sense.

The score is really close and then I notice that guy (again a father/grandpa/youth-football-organizer/loser/chaperone/scholarship-hunter/living-his-childhood-vicariously-through-little-kids or whatever) starts plugging in those same kids at the front of the line. Again. And Again. And again.

There are other kids who have been waiting in line for 10 minutes to try and catch one pass. From my view it seems like he’s trying to get these kids an opportunity to earn a scholarship? Trying to get these kids he obviously knows in front of Ron Brown?

Really?

In the end, he gets called out for it and it stops.

So I hope the guy feels better about getting those kids multiple reps in front of Ron Brown who, if you remember, was throwing passes to the other line.

Sucks for the kids who waited in line and never got an opportunity to catch one pass.

Ron Brown is a Coach

Obviously right?

How do you know if somebody is a coach? Well it takes like 30 seconds to notice. About 15 minutes before the camp started he just grabbed a random group of kids to throw the ball to as he is then coaching them up to run under the ball like I described above.

Coach Brown also ran one of the stations. It was 8 minutes for the kids at each station and his station was in the far corner away from the everything else. It was focused on ball security. He was totally into it. Something as “boring” as ball security. He was all about it and it was awesome. He was on each kid to hold it high and tight. Focused on each kid and each rep.

I was reminded of how you could trust him to have coached the running backs, tight ends and wide receivers all at some point in his tenure at Nebraska.

Coach Mario Verduzco Watched My Son Throw Air Balls

My son’s first station was the quarterback station where the kids attempted to throw footballs into the net with targets. It was a cool moment to think that Nebraska’s quarterback coach took a moment out of his day to watch these third graders throw a football.

My son’s first few throws didn’t even make it to the net. In the vernacular of basketball they were definitely air-balls.

Football players really embraced hanging out with the kids.

It was fun to watch these players really get into it with these kids. At the end of the camp each team got a player to coach them. The “coaches” or Nebraska football players really got excited when the kids made a big play.

In the game I got to watch the other team won on the final play and the coaches were going wild.

The Nebraska football players could have just gone through the motions but some of them really were embracing the moment. To a lot of these kids they are heroes.

Coach Chinander owns a “Normalize Hard Tackles” shirt

Ryan Day, Chinander and Mike Dawson were walking around the entire camp and I couldn’t help but be impressed with Chinander’s “Normalize Hard Tackles” shirt.

You can’t tell me you didn’t wish you didn’t have that shirt.

(Googling “Normalize Hard Tackles” t-shirt)

Parents Double-Check Your Kid’s Wardrobe Before They Leave the House

There was a kid there with a Christian McCaffrey jersey. I took a picture, not to share on the internet, but because it’s hilarious and I wanted to send it to my friends.

Just as a reminder, it wasn’t but a week before this camp that Frost was talking about the transfer portal and how some kids are receiving bad advice. Well Christian McCaffrey had something to say on twitter.

So there are a couple theories of how this could happen.

  1. Ignorance on the part of the kid and his parents. I couldn’t blame a kid or his parents to not know about Christian McCaffrey calling out Frost for Frost’s comments on some kids receiving bad advice when entering the transfer portal.
  2. Kid doesn’t care. Just wanted to wear the football jersey of his favorite player to a football camp.
  3. Parents wanted to troll the football program.
  4. He’s an Iowa fan.

Did I receive any insights into the Nebraska football team going into the 2021 fall football season? Nope.

It was a cool experience to walk around and see the facilities which is something I have never had a chance to do. My son had a great time but was upset afterwards because Scott Frost did not call on him at the end when he was taking questions.

Me: “Maybe I can answer the question. What did you want to ask him?”

Eight year old: “I wanted to know if he ever played for Nebraska.”