South Stokes football coach Paul Hall huddled a group of seven to 13-year-old Walnut Cove Wildcats together Thursday night after a free one-night football camp held at Lions Park by his staff and the Sauras JV and varsity players.
“I want you to guys to have fun,” he told the young athletes. “Yes, you have to work hard and you have to hustle. It gets tough sometimes, but the reward pays off. You get better and your team gets better.”
Throughout the two-hour camp South’s players and coaches worked with the younger group teaching basic fundamentals of running, passing and tackling.
Hall had the campers take a knee as he explained how the Walnut Cove Wildcats and Sauras were a family.
“That’s what we’re building here. That’s why our coaches and players are out here on a hot summer night. These guys are sacrificing during the week at workouts so when you come out to watch them play on Thursday and Friday you can be proud of them. We want you to be there and we want to come out and support you.”
Hall explained the importance of uniting the community’s football programs.
“That’s the special thing about South Stokes is the community and family.”
While South has seen success in years past, last season proved to be a struggle when the team failed to muster up a win.
“It takes some sweat and we’re putting it in. I always said one of the biggest rewards as a football coach is on Friday night when they run off the field with a big smile on their face. Obviously, it’s when something positive is happening. We know there’s going to be frustrations, but also believe there’s going to be some wins.”
And the coach wants to see Walnut Cove’s youngest players, the Wildcats, cheering his team on when it happens.
Hall recalled as a young boy looking up to high school athletes.
“They never made it to the pros. Today, they’re businessmen, teachers, coaches, engineers. But to me, they were bigger than life because they played football before I could. Watching our athletes help this younger group tonight means a lot. They’re making a huge impact.”
President of the Walnut Cove Wildcats, Jonathan Tuttle said it’s been over ten years since the high school players have hosted a camp and played an instrumental role in coaching the community’s younger players.
“This is going to help them develop an even stronger love for the game,” he said. “We appreciate the support from Coach Hall.”
The Wildcats are hosting their annual football camp July 27, 28, and 29 at the Lions Park from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. and the first practice of the season will be Mon., August 1. Practices are set for three days a week, Mon., Tues., and Thurs.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.