Jackrabbits prepare future football players

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

Almost 150 youths attended a clinic sponsored by Jackrabbit players and coaching staff on the practice fields east of Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, just hours before SDSU hosted Youngstown State.

The camp was free and head coach John Stiegelmeier gave the children, who were in kindergarten through eighth grade, three simple rules.

Speaking for Stiegelmeier, who was preparing with his team for YSU, was ex-quarterback Reed Burckhardt, who told the camp, “respect the players (who are coaching the camp), play hard and have fun.”

Campers were taught fundamentals such as: tackling, passing, catching, weaving through cones, passing coverage and blocking.

The campers were also encouraged to let loose, as more than 20 kids pig-piled on an offensive lineman.

The SDSU athletic administration was pleased with the student athletes’ contributions.

“It’s the best thing about sports: seeing kids develop through athletics,” said Mark Burgers, associate athletic director for external operations.

“Kids’, 3 to 4 years all the way up, big dream is to be a Jackrabbit some day, and it is fun to see it go full circle. It’s the American dream when it comes to sporting.”

Burckhardt, who hails from Russell, Minn., knows all about the full circle of SDSU athletics.

“I can relate to those kids,” said Burckhardt, who was on the team that won the Great West Football Conference last year. “I played here, and I grew up a Jackrabbit fan.”

“It was a unique experience to be in their shoes, as a fan, then play and now coach.”

The camp was cut short, due to weather concerns, but even when the kids were given their game ticket, the redshirt freshmen were not yet done with their services. About 15 student athletes played tag with the kids inside Frost Arena.

The parents were happy that their kids had this unique opportunity to have such interactions with Jackrabbit players. Brad Gietzen, father of Ben and Matt, praised the players for being role models and a positive part of the community.

The players had a good time helping out, too.

Brendan Luedtke, offensive tackle, said, “I loved it. It’s a fun time to give back to the community, … have a good time with the kids and give them a taste of football.”