The five-day Kaneland Youth Football League Skillz and Drillz camp concluded on Friday, with 138 kids participating. Members of the Northern Illinois University Huskies conducted drills on the final day. (Right) RB Akeem Daniels moves around a swarm. (Below) LB and Marmion alum Bobby Winkel answers questions. Photos by Mike Slodki
Youngsters get boost on gridiron from NIU on camp’s final day
by Mike Slodki
SUGAR GROVE—Steamy temperatures on the grounds of Kaneland Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove made for ideal football conditions.
Just ask the 138 kids participating in the Kaneland Youth Football League (KYFL), as well as the current version of the Northern Illinois University Huskies football squad.
The five-day camp came to an end on Friday with Huskies and possible future Knights scrimmaging against each other, after going over fundamentals throughout the week.
Kaneland Youth Football League camp organizer Tim Betustak was pleased with how the events unfolded and the enthusiasm put into it, with help from Kaneland-area, Marmion and NIU personnel.
“It’s a good mix of guys helping out, and was really a wonderful time,” Betustak said. “It was a great turnout, and the kids did well. They learned fundamentals and had fun.”
The final day of the Skillz and Drillz camp featured 20 Huskies relaying what they knew to the younger set, ages 7 to 11.
“This was fun today,” NIU quarterback and Mt. Carmel grad Jordan Walsh said. “We wanted the kids to have fun and give them a little coaching. You can never know too much about football.”
Betustak, who also took questions from the campers on the final day with players like Northern Illinois’ Bobby Winkel, felt the volunteer time and pedigree made for a successful camp.
“The thing that helped this week was guys going into every level of football. It was a good mix, and the kids can see what these guys experience now,” Betustak said.
It’s experience with the 2012 camp that could pave the way for Betustak, along with Jason Born, Gary Bell, Matt Hahn, Jeremy Cannavan, Ron Hain and countless others from the KYFL body to host a 2013 camp.
Also helping out was a talent who is no stranger to Kaneland-area football: Jody Henningson, who took snaps as the starting quarterback in 2007 and returns to Bemidji State University in Minnesota as a wideout in 2012.
“This is my first time with the kids, and they were a little starstruck today at first, but they had a lot of fun. We were teaching them fundamentals, and this is a great age to learn the basics.”
Kaneland Youth Football League can be reached at KYFL.com.