NCAA Football Youth Day
Young Campers Get Tough With The Dummies
July 29, 2010
Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The camp had its targeted enemy - a big, red, imposing-looking monster of a thing that surely looked even bigger and nastier, if you were about 4-feet tall and weighed about as much as a large bucket of water.
"Those big suckers are tough," said Jacob Altamirano, a soon-to-be second grader at Mission Avenue. "But I love to hit `em and knock `em down. It's fun and it's a challenge. But they are tough."
Altamirano was one of a couple hundred kids who showed up Thursday at the University of New Mexico practice fields to participate in a free camp sponsored by the NCAA and the New Mexico Bowl.
The camp had most of the basic drills you would expect in a football camp for young athletes, but the big, red monsters seemed to attract a whole lot of interest and excitement from the campers. These monsters also are called "tackling dummies."
The dummies are about six-feet high and bottom heavy, so if you are a determined tackler, you can put the dummy down. If you aren't so determined - or not so big -- you might bounce off. There were a few dummies that went down Thursday. There were a few campers who went down, too.
"Those things are fun to hit," said Christopher Mora, a teammate of Jacob's on the Highland Mighty Mites, who fashionably showed up wearing a Brian Urlacher T-shirt. "I like this camp because they said to just come out and have fun and I'm having fun."
The New Mexico Bowl is in its third summer of sponsoring the free camp. Three years ago, there were only five bowls participating in the NCAA program. This summer there are around 22 bowls opening a free gate for kids.
"It's important for us to be in the community as much as we can," said Jeff Siembieda, Executive Director of the New Mexico Bowl. "There are a bunch of kids, who have been here for all three years and they look forward to it. For us, it's saying thank you to the community for the support they have given to our bowl."
Lobo Coach Michael Locksley gathered up the campers shortly before noon and talked to them about the importance of grades, character and staying physically active.
"This is a win-win situation. We hope we are bringing future Lobos onto our campus and they get to learn more about the game and have some fun. This is football at its purest. These kids are having a lot of fun.
"It's also a chance for us to reach out and hopefully make a difference in a kid's life through football. We want these kids to leave here and go back to their communities and say, `Hey, those Lobos are good guys."
If there was a highlight to the morning camp - besides those ornery, red dummies - it might have been at the end when the campers gathered for refreshments, T-shirts and caps.
"These camps are free and if you are a family that can't afford to go to camp, this opens that door," said Cary Colbert of the New Mexico Bowl. "The kids get a T-shirt and a cap, so they all leave with something. I'm sure they learn a few things about football, too."
One camper, Abigail Magdaleno, said she learned a lot about football in a few short hours. Of course, Magdaleno, who is heading into the fourth grade, said she had a lot to learn.
"This is pretty much the first time I've ever played football," she said. "I'm more of a football fan. I've learned a lot of new things. It seems like every time we learned about something, it helped us learn about something else."
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and Sports Columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.