By Dan Hiner
Carmen Bricillo, the Youngstown State offensive line coach, was the only speaker to appear at the first day of the Ursuline football camp on Monday at YSU’s Watson and Tressel Training Site.
But that didn’t mean the participants didn’t receive hands-on coaching.
The Ursuline football team’s incoming senior class volunteered to help coach individual drills along side their high school coaches.
Approximately 90 youth football players, ranging from 5- to 14-years, old participated in an NFL style combine.
They were timed in the 40-yard dash, agility drills and the L drill and broke down into position groups for more specific instruction.
“We get these kids involved in what our coaching staff is teaching at the varsity level and freshman level so that they see it — so they have an idea of what we’re doing,” Ursuline head coach Larry Kempe said.
With high school football season a little more than a month away, the camp provides Irish seniors the opportunity to grow into leadership positions before Week 1.
“It gives us an opportunity to lead more ways than just on the field with our team,” Ursuline quarterback and linebacker Glenn Griswold said. “It’s just another way to show guys, teach and mentor people.
“It’s the same thing we’re trying to do with the freshmen and sophomores right now — mentor them, get them used to the program. It’s basically the same thing, just with younger guys.”
Developing leadership will be important for the Irish this fall. Ursuline has a 5-15 record over the last two seasons.
“I know we didn’t have enough leaders the past two years,” Ursuline receiver and linebacker Luke Pipala said. “[We’re] trying to correct their mistakes as well.
“It’s my greatest nightmare. I don’t want to lose and not make the playoffs — that’s my ultimate goal.”
The second day of the camp could feature guest speakers and coaches including Michigan secondary coach Mike Zordich, YSU head coach Bo Pelini, YSU receivers coach Tim Marlowe and Indianapolis Colts tight end coach Tom Manning.
Manning graduated from Ursuline in 2002 and coached at Iowa State the past two seasons before jumping to the NFL in February.
Kempe wouldn’t promise that the guest speakers will appear today, adding that it all depends on their schedules.
“A lot of these guys who are involved in college or, their time is very valuable to them,” Kempe said. “Not that they don’t want to be here, it’s just that I don’t want to infringe on their personal lives.”
If the guest speakers don’t show up, that’s fine for the seniors. Pipala said the senior class will be expected the help mentor the kids regardless of the guest coaches.
Kempe told his seniors they are “the face of Ursuline football” and should provide a positive experience for the children. For Kempe, the camp is a good way of generating positive news in the community.
“There’s too much negativity out there,” Kempe said. “There’s a lot more positive. We just don’t see the positive very often.”