MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, HI, UNITED STATES
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Hawaii — Stadium lights reflected off the helmets of youth football players from Waiane during a football camp at Pop Warner Field, Feb. 18. The training camp was part of the youth’s 2-day visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, where they partook in many activities including swimming, basketball, and visiting the Military Police K-9 Unit, before learning a few pointers from the Headquarters Battalion football team.
The focus of the camp is to teach fundamental football skills, while instilling discipline, respect, and teamwork.
“This camp is not just about football. We emphasize a lot of life skills as well,” said coach John Frederick Sr., who has worked closely with the players for several years now. “Leadership, integrity, discipline, sportsmanship and making right choices are values we want them to get from this experience. These kids are the future of tomorrow and we want them to reflect what they’ve learned here with life.”
Football players varied in age from 11-15 years old and are a part of a football club in which they play teams from other communities on Oahu. The league is called the Pacific Big Boys league. The visiting group of players is separated into two different teams—a junior varsity and varsity.
For many of the youth players there aren’t many opportunities to join football leagues due to the players size or lack of organized sports in their community. Coaches who work with the football club give players as much teaching as they can. There’s not many better ways to emphasize the outcome of hard work then spending a couple hours with Marines.
“I grew up in Philadelphia, so I know what its like to grow up in an inner city area,” said Sgt. Brian Zapone, camp coordinator. “We wanted to teach these kids the importance of mental and physical strength. It’s not just about getting through four quarters of football but through obstacles in life. I used football as a learning tool to exceed in life and that’s what I want these kids to do. This is our chance to give back to the kids. They look up to who we are as Marines and for us to sit down and give them our off-time on a Saturday night, it means a lot to them and you can tell their just soaking it in.”
Marines coached the players through conditioning drills at the start of the camp. Players ran from station to station executing up-downs, high-knees and sprints, while Marines watched and gave positive feedback to the players executing the drills.
“This really means a lot to them,” Frederick said. “They don’t have anything like this where they’re from and every time they come here and participate with the Marines you can see that they’re really enjoying themselves and their focused on learning.”
After the players finished conditioning drills, the Headquarters Battalion football team volunteers split the players up into their positions and worked with them for the remainder of the camp.
According to Frederick, the experience is much more than learning the game of football.
“This is a great bonding experience for them,” Frederick said. “They get to know the different cultures of their teammates and the fact that we are able to this on K-Bay, with Marines, makes it even more special. It’s a great bonding process for the coaches and players—something these kids need and won’t forget.
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