As summer vacation rapidly approaches for both the veteran players and coaches for the World Champion New Orleans Saints, one last important item of business needed to be attended to on Friday, June 18: The Sean Payton Football Camp.
The Saints' head coach once again took to the classrooms and the fields, and with the assistance of the Saints' coaching staff and a couple players, taught over 400 children the ins-and-outs of strong football fundamentals, mixed in with lessons on dealing with issues that directly face children and teenagers today.
"It's always special to get to spend time with enthusiastic and eager children and see the enthusiasm and energy that they bring out here," said Payton. "You can see hoe excited they are to learn more about football and to try to hone their skills, and really take it and apply it during the drills that we put them through."
The coaching staff put the players through different stations of drills, ranging from quarterback play to wide receivers drills, offensive line, running back position drills, as well as defensive drills focusing on proper alignments and techniques for players of all ages and skills.
"The important thing on the fields that we can impart to them is how to properly use their bodies so that they have a chance to take it to whatever league they are playing in and utilize the things we are teaching them. Some of the drills are taught with the sole purpose of teaching them the proper place to put their head and neck and shoulders so that they are seeing everything that is in front of them. While we have other drills for them that are designed to help them with their footwork and their fundamentals."
Payton said he was pleased with the overall quality of play that he witnessed throughout the drills and despite the severe heat and humidity that the New Orleans area is experiencing, that the campers understood the importance the proper hydration, a point that the coaching staff emphasized throughout the drills.
The camp was organized through the Saints' Youth Programs Department, which conducts countless camps, clinics and programs specifically designed for children of all ages throughout the year and is one of the most dedicated and passionate departments in any professional sports league.
Equally as important to the lessons the players learned on the fields were the life lessons that Payton harped on to the campers, which he stressed he took as much pride in talking about as he did as discussing football.
"It's important for the kids to know the importance of making the right decisions, of paying attention and applying themselves in school and setting goals and working to achieve them. Sometimes they need to hear it from someone other than their parents for it to really sink in and get them going and focused."