FOOTBALL: Living and learning

Deston Sanchez sprints across the field during one of the field

Athletes are all smiles at 10th annual football camp
Running from drill to drill, AJ Calisi, diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, appeared as carefree as the rest of his peers, embodying the true meaning that drives the annual Myles Brinson/JR Adams Fundamental Football camp.

The 10th edition of the camp dedicated to two young men who both died unexpectedly – Myles Brinson passed away from leukemia at age 8 and JR Adams was killed in a hit-and-run accident in 2005 at 17 – wraps up a weeklong session today at Anchorpoint Christian High School.

Founded in memory of their sons, coaches KC Adams and Marlowe Brinson put 110 eager campers through the rigors of football training Wednesday, teaching them not just fundamentals but also the life lessons that come along with the sport.

“I think our mission – it’s not about football – I think it’s about family and supporting each other,” Liz Adams, wife of KC Adams said.

The camp’s success is based around a volunteer effort and the friends and families of the coaching duo have helped fuel the passion for the camp.

Each day the camp opens with a prayer, followed by warm-ups, which includes high-knees, stretching and jogging in place. Then it’s off to six stations for drills. And at the end of the day a special speaker took the stage to talk to the campers.

Calisi and his mother, Elizabeth, spoke to the group Monday night, opening the week with their testimony. Calisi is currently in good health and acts light years ahead of his age.

“I’m feeling good,” Calisi said. “I thought I hated football, but I love it.”

It looked like everyone loved it, as there was not one unhappy camper participating on Wednesday evening. Nearly all the campers had upbeat attitudes and were happy to be playing football and making new friends.

Cierra Rabena, 8, and Dana Dvorak, 6, hung out together in their group, laughing and not seeming too interested in the drills but still enjoying their time.

“It’s fun and you get to do a lot of things that you learn,” Rabena said of the camp. Rabena is a camp veteran while it was Dvorak’s first year participating.

Other campers, Ryan Payne, 10, and Thomas Green, 11, said they would stay friends after their week at camp.

“He has Xbox Live so I’m going to keep talking to him,” Green jokingly said.

For Payne it was his first year at the camp and had all positive things to say.

“It’s awesome. I love to come out here. I love my positions, my coaches and I made new friends,” Payne said.

Positivity is prevalent throughout the whole camp, from the volunteers and the parents that bring their kids, to the kids that are out there because of a friend. Smiles were spread on nearly every face.

Wednesday night’s speaker, Brandon Sperling, cousin to Myles and JR and former camper, shared words of wisdom with the youngsters.

“Nothing worth having is going to come easy,” Sperling said.

Sperling received a full-ride scholarship for basketball to Fresno State right out of high school. He has since transferred to Humboldt State on another full-ride scholarship and will graduate this year with a degree in Kinesiology, Brinson said upon Sperling’s introduction to the group.

“These challenges, not only help you in football, but help you in life,” Sperling said.

Sperling spoke of the things he experienced as a person and athlete and what he has learned in the process. After his talk, the inspirational mood he left the crowd in was evidenced.

“Cherish the time you have on this earth. Be the best that you can be,” Sperling said with his closing words.

Brinson said the football instruction is a valuable tool for him and Adams to use in order to reach out to the kids who attend.

“It just reassures us we are doing the right thing,” KC Adams said.

Both athletes themselves, Brinson and Adams kept the competitiveness alive by having kids strive for “Bad Dude,” and “I see ya boy,” awards at the end of every day.

“My favorite is the Bad Dude area. They have Gatorade,” Dvorak said.

The names of the awards are slang terms that Myles and JR used to say with their fathers. Brinson used to call Myles a bad dude while he was sick and Adams used to yell across the football field “I see ya boy” to JR as he played. The awards are given to campers who exude sportsmanship.

There is no stop in sight for the annual clinic, which will forever be used to carry on the memory of Myles and JR.

“It’s all about giving back to the community and honoring my brother and cousin,” Ashley Brinson, daughter of Marlowe, said. “To Myles and JR, family was the most important thing to them.”

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