NEW BRITAIN - More than 200 local kids flocked to Chesley Park on Sunday morning to learn football from one of the best the Hardware City has ever produced.
The fifth annual Tebucky Jones Youth Football Camp was held over a three hour stretch in the morning, serving kids from eight to 13 years old, with most of the members coming from the Jr. Canes football program. A cheerleading camp was also held throughout the morning.
“The turnout is absolutely amazing,” said Lisa Samuels, president of New Britain Youth Football and Cheer. “We’re absolutely ecstatic about it. The weather is beautiful.”
The kids were ecstatic to learn from Jones and his coaching staff of Jr. Canes alumni, current members of the New Britain High School football team and coaching staff. Jones, a graduate and current head coach at New Britain High, paced the turf field at Chesley and offered pointers to the children as they were guided through various drills from general agility exercises to drills for specific positions on the field.
“It’s nice to get a chance to come out here and teach kids some new things,” Jones said. “Teach them the right techniques, so if they decide that they want to play in high school, they’ll be ready and do things the right way.”
Jones, a defensive back in the NFL for eight seasons as a member of the Patriots, Saints and Dolphins, hosts the camp as a free event for all children, in the hopes that they will embrace the time away from the various distractions of the modern day that weren’t as demanding when Jones blazed his trail from New Britain to the Super Bowl.
“It’s great,” Jones said. “We have a lot of good guys out here. My biggest thing is to get them out here and teach them these drills just to get them to put the phones and the video games down. That’s the best thing about this event. They’re learning, but they’re also getting away from other things that occupy a lot of their time, and they’re doing it outside.”
Jones and his coaching staff led the 200-plus kids through a number of different position-based drills, from 1-on-1 linemen work to running routes as wide receivers. Running backs worked on ball security by running through a crowd of fellow campmates, who looked to strip the ball from the tailback’s grip. Any back who lost control of the ball were sent to complete a quick 10 pushups.
Near the completion of the camp, kids threw to each other using the routes they learned in earlier drills.
“[Jones] has been phenomenal today with his staff,” Samuels said. “He got the kids pumped up and excited. They can’t wait for what’s next.”
Jones can’t wait for what’s next for the kids that came out to Chesley, as he completes another day of what has become one of his favorite of the year.
“I always had this in my heart since I was a kid, and it’s great to see so many others out here coaching and helping the kids, and I hope that one day, if these guys go on to play in college and the pros, they come back and do the same thing,” Jones said. “I love it. Every year I can’t wait to be out here and teach the kids new things. That’s the biggest thing, just being outside and enjoying it, and letting the youth know that I started right here, just like them.”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org