‘Owl Night Lights:’ Seymour hosts spring football youth camp


The sound of a large group clapping three times before shouting “Go Owls” rang throughout Seymour’s Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium.

It wasn’t a cheer for the boys or girls basketball team, and it wasn’t for the school’s volleyball team.

The commotion came from what could be the school’s future football team, as 95 children attended the second Owls spring youth football camp.

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The camp drew children from kindergarten through sixth grade who were eager to learn more about the sport.

About 45 players on the team helped guide participants through eight stations to improve skills. The camp allowed participants to rotate through various offensive, defensive and special teams positions.

The boys and girls then applied those skills during a football game.

The camp also included an obstacle course and combine. The combine portion was similar to the NFL Scouting Combine, which occurs each February at Lucas Oil Stadium for NFL draft prospects. Scouts valuate the draft class through various tests.

The event has become popular for fans eager to get close to the game’s rising prospects.

Owls coach Mike Kelly said the purpose of the camp was to make a connection with youth who are interested in football or want to improve skills. Some of those skills can be practiced at home, too, he said.

“It’s a good reminder there’s a season ahead of us,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to reach out to kids and let them know football is a good sport, not that we are trying to take away from baseball or the other spring sports that are going on.”

During the season, it’s difficult to conduct such an event for youth, Kelly said. Time during the season is used for practiced, preparation, games and more.

There’s a flag football program throughout the season, but not a learning camp.

“It’s all about making that connection,” he said. “We want to make an impact.”

That’s why he asked members of his team to volunteer to help lead the kids. The players taught the drills, made sure they were done properly and answered questions participants had. Players even signed some autographs after the camp.

Having players from his team volunteer to help was special for him but also for the participants who look up to them, Kelly said. He said he reminded the players of that before the camp.

“I told them their goal tonight was to be the reason why one of these kids plays football,” Kelly said. “We want them to have a good time, get kids excited about football and that the kids have a great experience. This is not about them (players) but who we’re teaching.”

Keith Sinkhorn, 10, practiced throwing the football with a member of the Owls football team and said he enjoyed the camp.

Sinkhorn said he has played center in leagues before and enjoys a pretty simple part of the game.

“I think it’s fun to hit people,” he said.

There were a handful of girls who attended the event to practice their skills for the sport.

“There are a number of girls who are interested,” Kelly said.

The Owls do have a female player, Shelby Holt, who plans to play defensive back and volunteered for the event.

Madison Morris, 10, took a break during a special teams drill and said she felt the camp was educational.

“I think this is pretty fun, and I’m learning some stuff,” she said. “I’ve learned how to properly catch a football and be in the right position.”

Morris said she has played the game with friends at school, but she has not played in an organized league. She said she is interested in pursuing that later.

“I thought it would be fun to learn the drills,” she said.

Morris said she watches football sometimes at home and cheers on the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.

Kelly said while learning drills and doing them properly was the point of the event, he felt it wasn’t the most important part.

“Mostly, I want them to have a good time and have fun playing football,” he said.

Kelly then blew his whistle to signal each group to move on to the next drill. That was met with three claps and a cheer for the Owls.

“That gives us a little bit of pride because it lets everyone know that we’re the Owls,” he said. “It gets you hyped up.”

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