The participants of the 21st ever Preston Football Camp were in for a day full of hard work and fun alongside what Dwight Preston, founder of the camp, called a “star-studded cast” of guest speakers and coaches. Dwight Preston and his daughter A’mie, who coordinated the camp, brought in football players from all around the state and from the amateur, collegiate, and professional levels.
Marlon McClure and Brandon Horton, both Tenaha graduates, joined the camp staff this year. Horton has been around a lot of amateur football teams, including Shelby County’s own Wildcats, while McClure extended his football career beyond high school at UTEP. Last season, while playing for the Miners, McClure had a kick return for a touchdown that was featured as an ESPN Top Ten play. McClure will be playing football for Tarleton State University in Stephenville next season.
The young footballers spent their day at camp going over individual and team drills on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The camp stresses fundamentals and technique, which Mr. Preston said can always be improved and will always make you a better player.
“The most important thing I can tell these kids is to be coachable,” Mr. Preston said. “Being coachable will always allow you to get better no matter what stage you are at. Being coachable is something that can help get you to the college and professional levels. We stress coachability here throughout the camp.”
After running forty yard dashes, the players and coaches took a water break while 2008 CHS graduate Danbert Collum took the chance to speak to the players. Collum, who was a multisport athlete for the Roughriders and a state ranked professional body builder in 2009, stressed the importance of work ethic. He told the players if they really wanted a career in any sport that they had to live in the weight room, and the most important skill they could learn was being a great teammate.
Nick Johnson and Desmine Hilliard both made the trip down from Baylor University in Waco to help with the camp. Both will be returning to Waco to start workouts with the Bears, but took time from their busy schedules to help out with the camp.
“A’mie hooked me up with her dad last year, and I came down for the camp,” Johnson said. “It was really fun and was a great experience for me. I plan on coaching at some point in my life. I love working with kids, and I love to see the kids I work with improve. It’s good to be able to help show them that football is all about having fun and working hard.”
Johnson will be playing his final season as a starting defensive tackle for the Baylor Bears, while his younger teammate Hilliard will be battling for a starting role as a sophomore on the offensive line.
“I met Mr. Preston at a track meet that he came to at Baylor,” Hilliard said. “I’d known A’mie for awhile and she got us two together. Mr. Preston said he was doing a camp and I was like ‘just let me know when and where and I’ll be there’. It’s always a good thing to take time out to help the kids. That’s something that I’ve learned while being at Baylor and something all of the coaches stress.”
Brandon Lathom, who has played three years of football at Texas Southern University helped Johnson and Hilliard with the offensive and defensive linemen. The coaches were able to work with each participant one-on-one during the camp, focusing on the skill sets required to play their position. This allowed them to effectively help players from all skill levels and age groups, which is something Mr. Preston is very proud of.
“There’s no way they will really learn everything we have thrown at them today, but that isn’t what we are trying to do. We just want to give them a starting point. We can show them techniques and drills they can use all summer to work on their skills. That way they will be much better players when fall rolls around.”
At the end of the camp, the whole group came together to play a tag football game. Mr. Preston said it’s always important to let the kids have a little fun at the end of the day, and it’s good to see them use all of the techniques they have learned throughout the drills.
“Everyone involved in the Preston camp would like to extend a huge thank you to Shelby County for being gracious enough to help sponsor this camp. We’d also like to thank the parents and all the kids that came out. This was started 21 years ago so kids and parents could have a good affordable football camp right here in Shelby County, and we’ve always found the support and generosity we’ve needed from this community. We’ve had a great camp this year, and we can’t wait to do it again next year,” Preston said during a break in the day’s workout.
Preston also extended a special “thank you” to both Alicia Creag-Smith and Jovan Latham along with Stephenia Preston, who is the cofounder of the camp.Preston goes all out for annual football camp