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Sports: With football camp, WHS family reaches out to moms
By Roger Greene
Powder Puff rules did not apply. The participants in Waccamaw High’s inaugural Moms Football Camp were there to experience first-hand some of what their sons have gone through to prepare for the 2017 season.
It may have been a small sampling, intended to only simulate activities in the classroom, weight room and on the field. Still Warrior moms did walk away with a greater sense of the dedication and commitment coach Shane Fidler is asking from his players.
“Now we know why they’re coming home so sore,” said Melissa McAbe, whose son Jared is a junior. “I’m having a lot of fun, which is the main reason I wanted to be here. But it’s also been good to get a better sense of what [the players] are doing when they’re at practice.”
“I think we all have a greater appreciation of all the work that is being done,” said Melanie Stecz, mother of junior quarterback Brandon Stecz. “I’m having a good time, but I’m also getting a better understanding of all the things that are involved. I usually leave football to my husband and Brandon. But I think I may be able to relate a little more now.”
About 30 moms were part of the festivities and were put through the paces by Fidler and the WHS coaching staff. The evening started in the classroom, where common gridiron philosophies and some X and O principles of Waccamaw’s offensive and defensive schemes were reviewed.
From there, it became more interactive. The group moved through various weight lifting stations, getting an idea of the techniques associated with routines such as the bench press, squat and power clean. After that, it was on to the field with the moms shuffling through a circuit that included cone, running and passing drills.
“The classroom was more intense than I thought it was going to be,” McAbe said.
“I liked the bench press,” Stecz said. “I felt stronger doing it than I did some of the other [lifts].”
Penny McClellan was among those who showcased her quarterbacking skills during the passing drills, drawing the attention of coaches and some of the players who had gathered to watch from the sidelines.
“I think the kids love seeing us out here and being involved,” McClellan said. “I thought this was such a cool idea when I heard about it. It’s exciting to see this many people.”
“A lot of college programs and some of the bigger high schools will do a moms camp,” Fidler said. “I thought it might work here, so we took a shot in the dark and went with it. It exceeded all expectations. We got a great turnout. I think it’s something we can keep doing. Our goal will be to make it bigger and better every time.”
Fidler viewed the camp as a way to continue building the Warrior football brand within the community. Since his hiring in February, one point of emphasis off the field has been to increase the program’s presence and identity. Fidler has earned high marks for his efforts, his energy and enthusiasm creating a buzz.
McClellan’s son Caleb is a rising senior who is returning to football after being away from the sport for several years.
“You can tell how much Coach Fidler cares about the kids,” McClellan said. “Caleb has friends who play and they were telling him about Coach Fidler and what was happening with the team. He decided it was something he wanted to be a part of.”
“During the interview process, I was told how supportive this community would be,” Fidler said. “And I’ve seen that over the last several months. We’re doing great work with things like our touchdown and booster clubs. The job now is to keep moving forward and growing.”
While fun and a spirit of kinship were the main themes of the evening, there was a more serious undertone with Fidler and his staff pointing out the safety protocols associated with several drills. In recent years, national news stories, movies and documentaries have focused on the hazards associated with playing football and several high-profile lawsuits have been launched against the National Football League and some collegiate programs. The byproduct has been safety concerns trickling down to the prep and grassroots levels.
Fidler is up front in addressing these concerns, citing Waccamaw’s commitment to USA Football’s Heads Up program as an example. Attributes of the program include standards for proper tackling, concussion recognition and response, equipment fitting and heat preparation and hydration.
“I know safety is a big thing for parents,” Fidler said. “Nobody wants to see players get hurt. We do all we can to take advantage of programs like Heads Up and teach players the right way.”
Eunice Stepp’s son Janarious is an eighth-grader at Waccamaw Middle School who has been involved with football since starting in the rec league.
“You always worry that your child could get hurt,” Stepp said. “The [camp] has been helpful because it’s giving me a better understanding of how practice works. I can see how much the coaches care and the time they take to [teach] the game. It eases some of the concerns you have.”
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