Camp Resembles 'Roughrider Way'

2018 St. Marys Memorial graduate Bo Kuenning talks to kids before a tackling drill at the Roughrider Alumni Youth Football Camp on Tuesday. Kuenning was one of more than 20 current and former St. Marys players who helped with the three-day camp of more than 130 kids.
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Sports Editor

With day two of the Roughrider Alumni Youth Football Camp in the books, St. Marys eighth-grade coach and camp organizer Dave Brewer has been amazed with what he has witnessed.

The camp has 132 kids from first through sixth grade and more than 20 current and alumni Roughriders football players helping with the camp — a far cry from what it was when he first ran it in the 90s.

“I think it says a lot about the community and the kids who wanted to be involved with something like this and it says more about the character of our varsity players and our alumni that they volunteered to come out here on their own time,” Brewer said. 

This is the first year Brewer has run the three-day camp since head varsity coach Doug Frye returned to St. Marys in 2014.

The camp consists of six stations — perfect stance and start drill, ball drills, blocking on bags, fundamental tackling, defensive back drills and linebacker drills. Each drill is 15 minutes long, followed by a three-minute water break before groups move onto a new station. 

The camp has been held at Grand Lake Health Systems Field.

After the end of each day, Brewer has someone speak to the kids about the “Roughrider Way.” Steve Stroh spoke Monday and 1977 Memorial High School graduate Bill Saum spoke Tuesday. Frye will speak Wednesday. 

Saum was a longtime NCAA enforcement officer who served as its first director of agent, gambling and amateurism activities up until 2005. He was a part of the 1976 St. Marys team that finished 9-1 overall and won the Western Buckeye League — the start of four straight league titles for the St. Marys program during that span.

“I know what it means to be a Roughrider football player,” he told the kids after the second day of camp. “Everything that I succeeded in in life was because of my parents, my God and because of the St. Marys Roughriders football program.”

As part of instilling the “Roughrider Way,” Saum challenged the kids to do their best as they grow up.

“You don’t have to be the best football player here, you don’t have to be the best running back, but you have to be the best that you can be with whatever talent you have,” Saum said. “You have to do your personal best in the classroom and you also have to do your personal best with your mom, your dad and your brother and sister because to be a St. Marys Roughrider football player … you know that you have to do your personal best every day you get out of bed.”

Saum also encouraged the kids to dream. He used his son, Zach, as an example. Zach always dreamed of playing football at Ohio Stadium and catching a pass in front of 100,000 screaming Buckeyes. That wish came true for him two years ago as a sophomore on the Army football team. Zach, a tight end, will be a senior this year and will play at Michigan Stadium on Sept. 7.

“Army got beat that day by the Buckeyes, but it was a day that he dreamed about his entire life and that dream came true,” Saum added. 

Two days away from opening camp for his St. Marys program, Frye not only witnessed Saum’s heart-spoken speech to the kids, but he also came away impressed with the camp. It has grown from two coaches and 17 kids in 1994 to coaches from all levels of the football program and more kids participating in the camp than what Frye will coach this upcoming season.

“I had a list of things that I wanted to accomplish when I came back and the key part as a leader was to put the right guy in charge and I put the right guy in charge with Dave Brewer,” said Frye, who will be entering his 17th season with St. Marys in his two stints. “Dave has done a fantastic job reorganizing this camp. I believe last year’s camp had about 40 kids a year ago and we are up to 135 and that says a lot about Dave and the job he has done.

“This is just a great experience we are having out here in our new stadium and bringing people together — that is what it is all about.”