I know that it has been a while since I posted dear readers. Please forgive me as my day job has kept me very busy as of late. I hope to start writing more consistently again. I just returned from a camp put on by the coaching staff of the San Diego Surge and I feel refreshed. Firstly, I needed to get out of town for a couple of days due work and the gloominess of Seattle rain. Secondly, I miss football! The season is a long one and once it is over you usually feel like you need that break but it never fails, that at some point in the off-season, you have a bad day and want to find your pads and tackle someone.
During the off-season, I try to go as many camps as I can. I try to explain to rookies and lesser experienced players that going to camps is the equivalent of playing Mario Kart and hitting the chevron on the ground that makes you go 10 times faster. It is a quick way to improve. You are out of your comfort zone of your team. You are around other coaches with different ideas and techniques. You are also around other players who are dedicated enough to travel just like you. The competition level goes up automatically because of this. Also, it’s an excuse to get the pads on again and put in work. You can train in the off-season like crazy but nothing compares to actually playing.
I had booked a flight to leave on Friday morning from Seatac (Seattle’s Airport). I stopped by my work so my coworker could give me a ride because it’s very near the airport. I got dropped off earlier than normal this time because when I tried to fly around the same time to get to LA for the All-American game, the security line was a hot mess and I was not about to through that again. Security was a breeze this time. I had plenty of time to hang around the airport.
I eventually ran into my coach, Scott McCaron who was going down to this camp as one of the coaches. We happened to be on the same flight although I think he checked in a lot sooner than me on the Southwest site because he got on the plane a lot sooner. I always forget to check in early and so usually end up in group C. We arrived in San Diego around 2:30PM.
I originally was going to go with a couple of different groups of people but they all had to cancel at the last minute. Thankfully, when I posted in the group page to see if anyone had extra room in their hotel room, Taylor Hay from St. Louis sent me a text that her and Raven had room due to their friends also not able to go. Problem solved. They picked me up at the airport and we checked into our hotel. We were all hungry so we found a sports bar to have dinner. I had an excellent hamburger and fries and then immediately hit a wall. I was tired. Taylor and Raven were tired as well due to the time difference between St. Louis and San Diego. We went back to the hotel and crashed early.
Camp started at 8:30 AM on Saturday. We got to the field to see a lot of players from the San Diego Surge and a couple from Ventura and Phoenix. There was a yellow thing in the sky called the sun that I was not too sure about but I adjusted. This camp was set up a little differently from others in that each session had 4 stations that focused on different positions and situations. So if you felt like you wanted to get some work at linebacker you could go with one group, running backs with other, quarterbacks with another, etc. Then the next session you could go with a different group.
I spent most of my time with the linebacker groups but also got some work in at defensive back drills and a little at receiver. Even though you play different positions, sometimes drills focused on a different position are beneficial because you may need those skills as well at your position. We worked different positions until around Noon when we broke for lunch.
We went over to the Subway down the street and enjoyed being out of the sun for a moment. Then we went back to the field for a couple of more sessions before we were introduced to Coach Bobby who coached with the Pacific Warriors and was teaching us tackling technique to close out the rest of the day.
Taylor, Raven, and I decided that we were starving so we went to a Chinese Buffet restaurant close to our hotel. We were eating and talking about the day’s events when we heard very loud screaming. It sounded like a movie. Then we quickly realized it was coming from the kitchen. There was an argument happening apparently and we heard shouts and a tray hitting the ground. Several people from the dining room got up to walk around to see what was happening. A cook came out of the kitchen and started cooking loudly to try to cover the noise. As we were leaving we walked by the door to the kitchen and saw a lady yelling fanatically on the phone. We paid the bill and went back to the hotel, unsure of what happened.
We went back to the hotel and all showered in time to watch my Oregon Ducks get the upset over the Stanford Cardinal. We passed out pretty quickly after that.
Sunday started early at the field at 8:30AM. We had a few more sessions and I got to try my hand at going over some edge rushing and offensive line technique which is definitely not something I normally do but was fun. We then worked with Coach Angel from Dallas who gave us some speed training drills that left my quads feeling like someone punched them but in a good way. We went to lunch again at Subway to prepare for the last part of camp.
When we got back from lunch we worked on prep for the 7 on 7 competition we would later play. It was good for me to work on my pass drops. I want to get more disciplined about them. I sometimes get excited and rely on my athleticism instead of getting in the correct position first. I feel like I’m getting better at it but it was still helpful to get more reps.
After that we went into offensive line vs defensive line in a competition. There weren’t a ton of lineman at the camp so they integrated us linebackers. Now, I play middle linebacker and I feel like a strength of mine is my speed an ability to blitz. But this drill was set up for edge rushing which I just haven’t done a lot of in my career and if I have I’m usually able to rely on my speed to get around a lineman to avoid engaging with them at all. There was no doing that in this drill. You were set up close to the lineman and the drill started on their move so you couldn’t get that first step around them. This forced you to instead use hand fighting which I have not had to do much and then I had to do it probably against the best offensive lineman I’ve played. It was not an easy task. I got better at it. But at the end of the day I feel like the longer I play, the more tools I’m going to need in my toolbox in order to promote the longevity of my career. The more positions you can play the longer you can play.
We then went into the 7 on 7 competition which was fun. I was able to get an interception which felt like a fitting ending for me to the camp. We finished camp with a camp photo and I made sure to thank all the coaches for their time.
Taylor, Raven, and I then jumped in the car and headed back into San Diego. They were going to stay another night in town but I had to catch a flight that night. I was able to shower at their hotel room and we hung out to watch football on TV before they dropped me at the airport.
Now, the last time I flew out of San Diego the city seemed to not want to let me go and after a series of canceled flights and running around the airport, I had to stay another day before being able to fly home the next morning. This time was almost the same. I got through security fine and ate dinner and waited to board. Then they came on the PA and said that there was something wrong with the plane and they were going to have to look at it. Then they came back on and said our plane was “broken” and they didn’t know when or if we were going to leave. At this time, I’m exhausted and sore and just want to be on the plane so I can pass out. Finally, they came back and said they had lined up a “terminator” plane that had been scheduled to land in San Diego for the night, but we were going to be able to use it. Around 1030PM we took off and I passed out.
I landed in Seattle around 1:30AM and my teammate Sarah picked me up and took me to my car which was an ice box that I had to scrape off so I could see. I got home and in bed at 2:30 AM to get just enough sleep to return to work the next morning.