While growing up in Batavia, and throughout his football career at Western Michigan and professional football, Proforce owner and head trainer Chris Browning was never taught about the dangers of concussions.
“I couldn’t tell you how many concussions I’ve had,” Browning said. “We didn’t get taught that. We led with our heads.”
The main emphasis of this week’s full-pad football camp at Westside Community Park in St. Charles, running Tuesday through Thursday, and next week’s camp at Panther Field in Burlington, is teaching kids the proper way to tackle and play the game.
With concussions at the forefront of talk at every level of football, Browning is hoping to reach kids from first through eighth grades early on to teach them the proper way to play the game, and to teach parents who are increasingly wary of the long-term effects of concussions on their children that there is a way to play the game effectively and still stay safe.
“People are scared of it now,” Browning said. “We want to take the scare away from the parents. We can do it right. We want to make sure kids are tackling properly, their heads are up, drive their feet. They’re able to have pro, college and high school players go out there and show how safe it can be to play effectively. We want to make sure that these kids are getting it so it’s embedded in their brain that they can have fun and minimize risk.”
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Chandler Harnish and his former Northern Illinois teammate, Geneva graduate Pat Schiller, will be among the counselors at the camp. College players, such as NIU’s Michael Santacaterina, also a Geneva graduate, and several local high school stars also will be on hand. There will also be a presentation from Dr. Eric Hestrup, of Innovative Sports Medicine on the importance of injury prevention and concussions.
While the St. Charles camp is being run along with the Tri-Cities Chargers, the event is open to the public. Kids are divided up by size and skill. The cost is $155. The camp runs daily from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Next week’s camp in Burlington is the first time in the five years Proforce has run the event that it’s expanded to another location. That camp runs from July 14 through 16.
“We’re the only camp around that does this,” Browning said. “People questioned (going with full pads) at first. It gets their minds ready for the season. If they can take some things from what our staff has to offer, that’s great. Any time we can give back to the kids, it’s great. I look forward to it every year.”Tags: football