Panthers Introduce Football To New Generation Of Players At Youth Camp

Kids at the Maumee football youth camp ended the evening by splitting into their age groups and playing games of two-hand touch football. The youth camp was hosted by the Maumee High School football program on Wednesday, June 12, at Kazmaier Stadium. MIRROR PHOTO BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER

BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — When it comes to playing football, Maumee coach Evan Karchner’s message is simple to the coaches at Maumee Middle School and youth programs – make sure football is the best part of their day.

The Panthers football program held the first of its two youth camps this summer last Wednesday, for kids in kindergarten through fourth grade.

“We want them to leave today and say, “Wow, that was the most fun thing I did all summer,’” Karchner said.

Karchner split the camps into two age groups – the second camp, for grades 5-8, will be on Friday, June 28 at Kazmaier Stadium – knowing that there are two distinct stages of youth football.

“That’s why we separate it, because I think there are two types of youth (players),” Karchner said. “There are kids who understand the concept of football and ones who are only here for fun. Everything we did here revolves around they have fun, whether it’s a realistic drill or not.”

The camp featured an obstacle course, a diving-and-catching drill and a fumble recovery drill that looked awfully close to a slip-n-slide.

They closed the camp by splitting into three age groups and playing two-hand touch games.

Getting the youths in Maumee excited about football and wanting to play for the Panthers when they come of age is one of the many goals of the camps.

“Youth camps are undersold sometimes,” Karchner said. “It’s a good opportunity to link with these kids when they’re kindergartners. 

“You want them knowing Coach Karchner from when they’re kindergartners all the way until they’re in high school because eventually they’ll say, ‘That’s who I play for, and I don’t know anything else.’”

In addition to Karchner and many of his assistant coaches, most of the high school players were helping run the camp. Karchner believed having his players there was a good opportunity for them to be with the youths and give back to the community.

The camp was originally scheduled for the previous Wednesday, but storms forced the postponement. While nearly 70 kids were signed up for the camp, around 40 were in attendance last week.

Karchner chalked the absences up to other commitments, such as Little League games.

“You’re always trying to get as many kids signed up as possible,” Karchner said. “I was happy to see that many kids signed up. Obviously at some point, someone wanted to come.

“Just like we want our kids playing multiple sports (at the high school), we have a lot of kids playing baseball and Maumee Little League and doing some different things.

“We’re happy with the 40 kids who showed up. We had fun and got them introduced to Maumee football, which is always the goal.”

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