Touchdown training: Local youths gear-up and get down to grass tactics in Vilseck
April 12, 2011
VILSECK, Germany -- More than 50 young sports enthusiasts had their game faces on as they blocked, ran and hot-dogged their way around the Vilseck High School football field during a football clinic here, April 2-3.
The two-day clinic brought young footballers, ages 8-18, together with players from the Frankfurt Universe, a semipro American football team out of Frankfurt, Germany.
Throughout the weekend, students practiced tackling, blocking, throwing and passing using the same techniques their instructors learned during the training season.
"This type of learning brings the kids to a new level. They get to experience what it is like to be coached at the same level we practice," said Michael Williams, offensive coordinator for the team. "Our goal is for the kids to have fun and come away learning at least one new thing from this experience."
After an hour of perfecting technique, students split up into two age groups to practice drills.
Fifteen-year-old Bryan Smith was no match for muscle-clad Andrew Ciukurescu, linebacker for the Universe, but he tried. Smith knelt down in front of 300 pounds of pure muscle. Ciukurescu smiled and reminded Smith that technique can overpower size. Smith then charged as he attempted to hold Ciukurescu back from the line of scrimmage.
Across the field, 14-year-old Kyle Cloutier snapped the ball, took three steps back and threw a tight spiral to receiver Anthony Maynard, 14, who caught it in stride.
Cloutier attributed his perfect pass to instructions he picked up earlier in the day.
"I learned a different way to hold the ball and how to position my feet," he said. "This clinic will definitely make me a better quarterback for high school football next year."
While some participants currently play on an organized football team, many were on the field for the first time, including 9-year-old Denzel Washington.
The shy Washington blocked lightly and listened intently to the instructors, learning the essence of the game with each passing hour.
When given the ball, however, he let loose on the field, carrying a hefty smile and zigzagging through fellow players. Washington said he learned a lot about the game the first day but it wasn't all hard work.
"Mostly we just had fun," said Washington.
While the Frankfurt Universe offered their unique skills to community members during the Month of the Military Child, a few players also got a taste of home.
"When I was younger I remember looking up to those older players who influenced me and inspired me," said quarterback Ian Mitchell, one of two Americans who play for the Frankfurt Universe. "It's great to give back to the community and I'm glad I can do the same for these kids in an environment that feels like home."
The garrison, Department of Defense Dependents Schools, CYSS and the Frankfurt Universe American Football team sponsored the clinic.