By Greg Gulas
The Ursuline High School football camp concluded Tuesday with Youngstown State head coach Eric Wolford and Waynesburg head coach Rick Shepas addressing the group at the Tom Carey practice facility.
“It was a fun two days, all went as planned, our coaches did an excellent job instructing and the campers learned a little bit about the fundamentals of their positions,” Fighting Irish coach Larry Kempe said. “I really enjoy the young kids and it is absolutely fun watching them developing their skills.”
Mickey Velasquez, a sixth grader at St. Charles School in Boardman, plays on both sides of the football.
“I came to the camp to learn how to run better routes and to listen to the guest speakers,” he said.
Jacob Kempe, the coach’s nephew, is a fifth grader at St. Rose School in Girard and a linebacker.
“I want to play for Ursuline when I get older and wanted to learn more about the fundamentals of my position,” he added.
Brothers Collin and Conor Hritz of Canfield play both running back and linebacker.
“I need to learn more about both positions in order become a better player,” said Collin, who will be heading into eighth grade at Canfield Middle School this fall. “I just want to get better so learning from some of the best coaches and listening to the guest speakers is a good start,” said Conor, who will enter sixth grade in the fall at Canfield Village Middle School.
Another set of brothers, Luigi and Lorenzo Rohrbaugh, also of Canfield, hoped to get better acquainted with the drills associated with their positions.
“I am a running back, linebacker and want to learn what it takes in order to get better at both positions,” said Luigi, an eighth-grader at Canfield Middle School. “You can’t get better unless you work hard and I want to learn everything that I can at this camp,” noted Lorenzo, a third grader at Canfield Center School.
Anthony Carter of Struthers, whose father, Art, is a member of the Fighting Irish coaching staff, is a wide receiver and running back.
“I am hoping to learn the drills so I can practice them on my own. Making new friends is also a big part of camp for me,” he added.
Shepas’ pride for the area is reflected in the fact that 38 players from the Mahoning Valley area dot his upcoming roster.
“Having grown up in the Nebo area of Struthers, that foundation has shaped me every minute of every day my whole life. I had so many excellent coaches that cared passionately about their teams and the area and it makes me proud every single day that I am from this area,” Shepas said. “I’m not afraid to work hard, never listen to naysayers and continue to dream. As a coach, I’ve enjoyed success at several coaching stops and I tell everyone it’s because of the players.”
Wolford, an Ursuline graduate, said you can’t sleep and expect to win.
“Productive people get up early in the morning; they don’t sleep in. That also means that you have to go to bed at a decent hour,” he said. “I was fortunate to have played my senior year at Ursuline because they saved me. I didn’t handle academics like I should have and tried to be funny, but they rescued me. When you think you know it all then you are done. I learn something every single day of my life. There’s no ‘I’ in team and it’s been proven at every level that teams win; individuals do not.”