MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — It was “all smiles” all the way around on Monday at Mylan Park in Morgantown as more than 20 West Virginia University student-athletes led a free youth football camp organized by the Country Roads Trust.
While the young football players had a blast learning the ropes of the game from some of the top players on this year’s WVU football roster, it wasn’t just the campers who enjoyed the day out in the sun.
“It was very fun getting to get out here and getting to give back to the community. The kids seemed to have fun,” transfer linebacker Lee Kpogba said. “Me personally, I like kids, it’s always fun whenever you get around them. They got so much energy. It just always brings me up. So, it was fun.”
Kpogba joined the Mountaineers in the offseason and has quickly become one of the leaders of the WVU defense. A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Kpogba is no stranger to youth football camps, and what they can mean for all parties involved.
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“Camps like this can be very important because I remember when I was younger, I got an opportunity to go to a camp with some D-I football players. And I still remember that experience to this day,” he said. “So, those kids, I’m pretty sure they’ll remember this for a lifetime – getting to come out here and run around with us, play with us, and things like that. It’s definitely something they’ll remember.”
It’s not only the experience of running around with standout Division-I football players that these Mountaineers hope sinks into the kids who were present Monday.
There was plenty of knowledge to be handed out as well.
“Really just the lowest man wins, and you got to be a little nasty to play O-Line,” said redshirt junior offensive lineman Doug Nester when asked what his message to the campers was.
In a bit of surprise, Nester said some of the campers weren’t ready to turn on the nastiness that might be needed to excel as a lineman.
He added, though, that he hopes it clicks over time for them.
Effort, meanwhile, was Dante Stills’ biggest sticking point.
“For us, that’s kind of all we care about, is effort,” said Stills. “I was just teaching them how to give effort every time you run a drill and finish through the cones.”
If any kid struggled completing a drill or didn’t run through the cones, Stills was quick to put an arm around them with a word of encouragement.
Those campers seemingly had no trouble finishing the drill the next time through the order.
“That’s what it’s all about. That’s kind of my goal. I want to coach them,” said the Fairmont native. “I just told them to slow it down, and get it right at first, and then speed up. That’s kind of what it’s all about, the next play, the next drill.”