Holsey football camp another success

79 athletes participate in camp
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Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School football coach Bernard Holsey conducted a camp from June 14-16 to help athletes ages 8-18 improve their skills on the gridiron.

The non-contact skills camp was free. Some of Holsey’s former teammates and close friends served as coaches.

Forty-seven youngsters participated in the camp for first- through eighth-graders on June 14-15. The camp for grades 9-12 on June 15-16 drew 32 participants.

Holsey said he was thrilled with the effort of the athletes and was honored to work with them. He said the athletes left the camp with a greater appreciation for the basics of the game.

“The effort and concentration of the kids was outstanding,” Holsey said. “I really enjoy teaching them some of the basic fundamentals of professional football that is many times overshadowed by fame and glamour of the professional football game.”

Holsey had plenty of help to make the camp run smoothly.

“The gentlemen that volunteered their time provided a different perspective on the game, as well as life,” Holsey said. “I am blessed that my friends take time out of their busy schedules to help spread valuable knowledge to the youth in the surrounding communities. My camp was a success this year, and always, because of the kids having fun while learning new things.”

Holsey, who played in the NFL, Arena Football League and Canadian Football League, was one of several coaches with professional football experience. George Williams, Ratcliff Thomas and Phil Glover played in the NFL and AFL. Gene Washington competed in the NFL, and Ronnie Washburn played in the AFL.

Local coaches Mike Balliett, Jason Rieck, Colton Zimmerman and Bill Hahn also worked at the camp.

This was the 13th camp held under Holsey’s charge. He started the camps in 2000 and ran them until 2010. After taking a few years off, he restarted the camps in 2016.

With another camp in the book, Holsey reflected on what motivates him to keep holding camps each summer.

“I continue hosting this camp because it gives all willing participants the opportunity to learn and engage with professional athletes,” he said. “You never know if one thing you say or do will be that spark to make a kid strive for more in life. That is always my hope.”