Future BSHS football players get first crack at new field
They stepped onto the field three or four at a time; their eyes open wide, smiles on their faces.
But the first group of Bonner Springs football players to play on the newly installed turf at David Jaynes Field looked a bit smaller than one would expect.
On Monday, June 19, Bonner Springs High School football coach Lew Kasselman and a handful of current Braves took a dozen youngsters through a series of drills and camp games at Kasselman's annual kid's camp, known this year by the name "First on the Turf."
For the coaches and current players, being on the field marked the unofficial beginning of football season. For the campers, it represented much more.
"I was here when they first stepped onto the field and the look on their faces was awesome," junior-to-be Ethan Brotherton said. "They're going to be where we are in a few years and I just wanted to come out here to help them out."
Brotherton was joined by fellow incoming juniors Blake Tuttle and Byron Williams, as well as 2006 graduate Emmanuel McComb.
On the first day, in true Kasselman form, the coach preached teamwork above the glory of the individual. He also praised his own team for taking the time to come out to camp to help the future Braves.
"They've been in that position once," Kasselman said. "They're role models for these kids and it's neat for the young guys to see them."
To a man, the Braves on hand to help out with the camp showed up because they wanted to, not because they were told they had to.
But they'd all be lying if they left out the part about using the kids camp as another excuse to get onto the turf themselves.
"The fact that we have this turf is awesome," Tuttle said. "And we want to show people we deserve to have it. This is great for the kids because you know they like it. The first thing they said was 'Wow, we're playing on the turf.' And that's how we feel, too."
Although the camp was designed more to give the youngsters an idea of what it's like to play high school football, Kasselman said he thought it helped his current varsity players, too.
"When they're down there helping, they're seeing things from a different perspective," Kasselman said. "They're there to help the kids with the drills but all of a sudden they stand up and they get it. I think it's helped them a lot."
In today's era of high school sports, young athletes don't just learn a system when they get to the high school level. A lot of times the middle school and pee-wee league coaches use the same systems and philosophies of the high school coaches, particularly in small towns.
This, they hope, provides the athletes with a sense of continuity so they'll be familiar with what they're running by the time they reach high school.
That's exactly what Kasselman hoped to use this camp for, and after the first three days he said things had gone well.
"We've just been trying to teach the kids a lot of the things we do," Kasselman said. "And our hope is that when we're done they'll just keep learning it and learning it."
While most of the things the Braves "do" revolve around the fundamentals of football, Kasselman has also taken time to make sure he teaches his younger pupils about sportsmanship.
Each day, Kasselman informed the future football stars of the word of the day.
Monday's word was "team." Tuesday's was "honesty." And Wednesday the focus was on "character."
"In addition to football, those are the things we teach our guys and we're just trying to show these younger guys what it means to be a Bonner Springs football player," Kasselman said.
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