Copperas Cove tight ends coach Shay Adams spent the last 14 years of his career with the Bulldawgs, serving as director for the program’s NCAA and NFL Football Camps for 10 years. During the span, he has seen both programs flourish.
The long-running camps, which are stretching into their second decade of existence, have become both popular and well-respected with parents from Lampasas, Gatesville and even Burnet sending their children to this year’s NCAA camp, which is reserved from incoming first- through sixth-graders. Copperas Cove’s NFL Football Camp for incoming seventh- through ninth-graders will be held Aug. 4-8, and many of athletes who participated over the years went on to play for the Bulldawgs, who have made the playoffs ever season since 2004.
Clay Whittington recently spoke with Adams about what makes the camps unique.
Does the camp just keep getting bigger and better every year?
It does, and we keep trying new things. We’re always trying new ways to get the word out. We want kids from the community to come out here, get involved and be excited about Bulldawg football. So, we are always trying new ways to get the word out. We are working in conjunction with the Copperas Cove Youth Football League — our little league football teams. We are going through the schools and the elementary schools. We go during the spring, and we visit the kids at those schools. We will take some of our seniors that are graduating over and visit with them. So, we try to improve every year. We will go back at the end of these camps and critique them and see what we need to change. What do we need to grow? What worked? What didn’t work? The biggest change we made was moving it from the back soccer fields at the high school seven years ago to over here at S.C. Lee Junior High. Now, we’ve got a tremendous amount of room.
How many kids did you have this year?
We had about 110 kids, which is a pretty good turnout for our elementary camp.
How do you balance having fun and teaching the kids?
This isn’t a baby-sitting camp. We are teaching football. We are teaching the fundamentals that we teach all the way through from junior high to freshmen to junior varsity to varsity. We are teaching the same fundamentals because football is football. We want the kids to have fun, and we work some games in and some competitions in, but the biggest thing is we are going to get them out here and let them learn Bulldawg football.
How important is it for the young kids to get to come out and interact with the coaches?
It is awesome for the kids to come out, and they love to see all the coaches. Every once in a while, we’ll have some of our kids who have graduated and gone on come back. Last year, Josh Boyce came out when he just happen to be passing through.
The thing is, and head football coach Jack Welch and offensive coordinator Tracy Welch talked about it, these kids are sitting in the same shoes, wearing the same T-shirt, going through the same camp that Robert Griffin III went through. It’s the same one Charles Tillman went through and Josh Boyce went through and Brelan Chancellor went through. The kids today are doing the same things those guys did, and somewhere out there on this football field, there are stars. There are NFL players out there, but the biggest thing is there are Bulldawg football players out there, and the sky is the limit. They just need to get out here, get after it and enjoy themselves.
When the kids hear stuff like that, I’m sure their faces just light up, right?
Man, they love it. They love it, and it is really neat because you see a change in the kids from Monday to Thursday. For some of them, this is the most they’ve done in their lives. They come in, and they are in their little cocoon. Then, they are like, “What? Robert was out here? RG3!” Overall, I’d like to think they come out of this camp as a better kid and come out of their little cocoon.
Does the older camp get a little more serious?
It is the same stuff, but it is different because it is at a different pace and a different tempo. We are going to be teaching fundamentals at that camp, but we are also going to work into our plays – our offensive and defensive schemes. Then, we are going to work them into their junior high sets. But the biggest thing is they are still working on the fundamentals. The difference between a good team and a great team is very, very small. It is the fundamentals, so the more you teach fundamentals and preach fundamentals and technique, the better they’ll be.
What is your favorite part of these camps?
Just seeing all the kids. I love seeing the kids and working with kids. I love seeing coaches working with kids, enjoying themselves and having a good time. We’ve got a big parent following out here, too. ... Just seeing kids come out here and have fun is the best thing for me.