LAKEWOOD RANCH — Eleven-year-old Kyle Swindell couldn’t wait to get back out on the football field.
And no matter how hard his coaches pushed him. Or how tired he was. Or how uncomfortable he was when his T-shirt was dripping with sweat, the East Manatee Bulldogs Junior Pee Wee cornerback never stopped smiling.
Like the majority of the Bulldogs’ players, Swindell was elated to be back out on the field with his teammates.
“It’s very exciting, and I can’t wait to get in the games,” Swindell said. “It’s so hot, and conditioning wears you down, but it’s going well, and we’re having a lot of fun.”
Swindell was one of nearly 200 kids who strapped on their helmets and hit the field for the Bulldogs’ first official day of practice Aug. 1. While the Tiny Mites — the Bulldogs’ youngest squad — had the day off, the rest of the teams spent the first day of practice focusing on conditioning drills and basic football fundamentals.
“The first week is all conditioning,” Junior Pee Wee coach Kendall Brown said. “We’re working on football drills and trying to incorporate a lot of running and conditioning drills. We’re trying to cover all three parts of the game while keeping everybody moving.”
The 8-, 9- and 10-year-old Mighty Mites spent most of their first practice working on blocking drills and punt formations, agility and learning basic football skills.
“I missed playing football because I like to catch the football and throw it, and I like being out here with my friends,” 9-year-old Mason Fischer said.
Across the field, the older squads focused more on conditioning drills and maintaining proper technique while also working on various formations and passing, receiving and blocking drills.
“The biggest thing we want to teach them is to stay focused,” Mighty Mites coach Chris Rogers said. “Football is a sport that can be dangerous if you’re not focused. If you aren’t blocking and tackling properly then it can cause injury, but if you’re going full speed, then 90% of the time you’ll never get hurt.”
The Bulldogs, which will continue to practice from 6-8 p.m., Monday through Friday, until Labor Day, will welcome the 2009 season with their annual Jamboree Aug. 22 before kicking off the regular season Aug. 29. For more information on the East Manatee Bulldogs visit www.eastmanateebulldogs.com.
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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