BY GENE PHELPS
BELDEN – Football, basketball and soccer practice is already under way for a group of the area's young athletes.
Tupelo Christian Preparatory School, in conjunction with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, is hosting a three-day Power Camp this week for boys and girls ages 7 through 14.
“We wanted to introduce three major sports to the athletes,” said first-year TCPS athletics director Justin Sawyer. “Most camps are for a high school-aged kids, for single sports, and for boys. We wanted to involve the girls.”
Sawyer said 55 boys and between 25 and 30 girls signed up for the first-year camp, which is open to any child, not just TCPS students.
The camp plans for next summer will include baseball and softball instruction.
The boys practiced football Monday, while the girls practiced basketball. Today, the boys will be instructed in basketball and the girls in soccer. On Wednesday, the final day, the boys will practice soccer, and the girls will have a choice of basketball or soccer.
“We wanted to do a different type camp,” said Sawyer, who played on the offensive line for the Ole Miss football team last season. “Kids tend to play multiple sports. This exposes them to all the sports.”
The campers participating in the football portion of the camp were introduced to drills, conditioning and other basic fundamentals. The athletes also participated in a punt, pass and kick competition and played flag football.
Scott Carter, the area director for the FCA, said his group helps sponsor more than 600 junior high and high school-aged camps each year.
“This is something new,” he said, referring to the power/three-sport camp. “We're doing something to impact kids at a younger age. We work together with the schools to provide speakers and materials for the camp.”
Ole Miss wide receiver Bill Flowers was the featured speaker during Monday's camp session. Other guest instructors and speakers this week will be Tupelo High School girls basketball coach Nanci Gray, former Ole Miss basketball standout and New Albany High girls basketball coach John Stroud, and former major league pitcher Rob Calistro.
“The speakers are able to use this platform to share their faith with the athletes,” Carter said. “We hope this camp is something we can continue to do every year. We want it to grow.”