Rookie Week Begins With Youth Football Camp

Posted Jun 18, 2012

Growing up in their respective parts of Texas, Rams rookies Michael Brockers and Chris Givens never had much of a chance to participate in many youth football camps.

In the case of Brockers, his experience with camps as a youngster was limited to Amateur Athletic Union camps in the Houston area and never much in the way of interaction with NFL players.

For his part, Givens never attended a football camp of any kind as a kid in Wyllie, Texas.

So it was that the more than 100 kids attending the 2012 iteration of the St. Louis Rams Youth Football camp weren’t the only ones getting their first taste of a camp designed to teach basic fundamentals but more important, to have fun.

“This is the first time for me doing this at any point in my life,” Givens said Monday morning. “I have never been a part of any camp like this or anything like that. It’s a great opportunity to be out there and be around the kids and try to help them out a little bit.”

Givens spent his morning working with kids on running routes and catching passes while Brockers helped put the group through the paces of some defensive line drills.

“I did a couple of AAU camps and stuff like that, nothing too big, nothing like this,” Brockers said. “But I understand what these kids are going through trying to learn and get a new experience and trying to get better at this sport.”

Presented by Barnes Jewish Hospital and Washington University Orthopedics, the camp is in its second year of allowing local kids enter their third through eighth grade years a chance to work with the rookie class on a variety of football skills, meet some NFL players and take a tour of the Continuity X Training Center. 

In a traditional sense and moving forward, the camp will serve as one of the signature events and a kickoff for the now annual Rams “Rookie Week.”

The camp actually began in 2010 with quarterback Sam Bradford’s draft class serving as the hosts but the lockout kept the camp from running last year. For the foreseeable future, though, the camp should offer local kids an opportunity to learn some skills but the emphasis is more on providing a fun environment.

“I always talk about how we are not in the business, when it comes to the youth football level, of training kids and giving them that experience,” Rams Fan Development Coordinator Kyle Eversgerd said. “We want kids to have a great experience the Rams way. So anytime anybody third to eighth grade in the St. Louis area can come in on a Monday morning and work out with our guys, take part in drills and also see our locker room and weight room, things of that nature, who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? There are plenty of adults, myself and many of our rookies included, who can put themselves in these kids shoes. It’s a fun event.”

Indeed, the 35 Rams rookies, both drafted and undrafted, were clearly having as much fun as the more than 100 kids in attendance on Monday morning.

The kids were split up into groups and rotated through different position drills using the team’s indoor training facility as well as the AstroTurf field outside. Other groups were given tours of the Continuity X Training Center by different players and given a behind the scenes look at the team locker room and weight room.

When all was said and done, the players sat down for an autograph session with the kids and all were given lunch. 

“I met with them prior to coming out,” Eversgerd said. “They were all excited. They get to work with kids that they were once in their shoes so they can all relate to them. They can all remember being that age. They run drills at the pro level and I think they have fun with the fact they can go out and goof around a little with kids in third and fourth grade and not take it as serious. They go from doing an NFL drill with an NFL coach to now they are running the drill with a third through eighth grade kid, it’s kind of a light hearted thing that reminds them how much fun football can be.”

After nearly two months of rigorous study of expansive playbooks, long hours spent in meeting rooms and the always difficult adjustment to the speed and tempo of NFL practices, the camp offered a tired rookie group a nice respite from the constant yelling and instruction from the Rams coaching staff.

Given the chance to enjoy a bit of a role reversal, Brockers made it clear that any yelling he did was in good fun but also gave him a new appreciation for what coach Jeff Fisher and his staff go through on a daily basis.

“Oh, totally,” Brockers said, laughing. “I can honestly see what coaches go through now. They have a beautiful job just screaming at people all day. That’s the job of a lifetime.”

Rookie Week continues through Saturday with a variety of events including a charitable bowling event with Team Activities for Special Kids (T.A.S.K) Monday night, a trip to Joplin to participate in the Governor’s Challenge (building five homes in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity), a tour of St. Louis landmarks and favorites and wrapping up with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in downtown St. Louis on Saturday.

Considering most of their time in St. Louis has been spent with their heads in their playbooks, practicing and training, the chance to get to know their new home is something the rookies are looking forward to.

“Definitely,” Brockers said. “It’s hard to get used to a city when you are in your playbook all day. Getting to know what’s going on in St. Louis and getting to see different parts of it will be a great experience.”