Former Chief hosts youth football camp at Cathedral
NATCHEZ — Former Kansas City Chiefs offensive guard Will Shields has been traveling all over the country for years to host football camps for children. The Will Shields Youth Football Camp finally made its way to Cathedral High School Friday — and he didn’t come alone.
Shields also brought former NFL linebacker Gary Stills with him.
Shields said he was looking for more places to host his camp when Chris Garcia, whose father, Roy Garcia, is the former athletic director at Cathedral, suggested setting up shop in Natchez.
The camp had one session Friday evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and will continue from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at Cathedral High School. Shields will accept walk-up participants today for a $45 fee.
“This is a great opportunity to ask pro athletes, ‘How did you get to the NFL?’ and actually get professionals’ advice,” Shields said.
“We want to give them the fundamental drills they need to start on early so they have a head start.”
Friday, the young players had their abilities tested, as they were timed for speed and measured for distance jumps. But today, Shields said he plans to mix their speed with fundamental football drills.
Shields said coaching and reaching out to young players is something he always wanted to do.
“For me, I enjoy working with young guys and seeing them thrive in high school and make it to the college level,” he said.
Stills said Shields welcomed him to the camp committee this year, and he’s been enjoying the ride.
“Three months ago, I knew I wanted to get involved with camps to enhance my coaching skills, and (Shields) said come aboard,” Stills said.
Stills said that many young boys just want to go out and play football, but this camp shows them that there is much more to the game than just playing.
“(Being athletic) is all relative, but it starts with alignment, assignment, technique and then finish,” Stills said.
“It’s all about the fundamentals and just getting the knowledge about their positions.”
Stills said this camp is important because a lot of the players remind him of himself when we was younger.
“It’s a thrill for me. I followed the same path as a child,” Stills said. “Some NFL guys came back and did a camp in my town and showed me different skills, and I honed them and made it to the NFL.”
Trinity sophomore running back Dee Fleming said he joined the camp in hopes to improve his overall game.
“I want to soak in a lot of information and techniques to make myself and my team better,” Fleming said. “I want to ask them what type of head I need to have on my shoulders to play on a higher level.”
When it comes to getting that information from former NFL players, Fleming said he is grateful for the opportunity.
“It takes time for them to come down here, and I appreciate them,” Fleming said.
Shields said this year’s Natchez camp is only a mini-camp, two hours on the first day, and six hours the next day.
”Hopefully next year, we’ll do three six-hour days,” Shield said.
Through all of the camps Shields has worked, and all of the players Shields has inspired, he said he has one main goal.
“I want to be able to see them in college one day and say, ‘Hey, I worked with that guy,’” Shield said.