Story by Greg Mitchell, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka hosted a youth football clinic sponsored by Youth Sports at the Berkey Turf Field Complex, June 28.
A group comprised of Stanford University assistant coach Tsuyoshi ‘TK’ Kawata, Japanese X-League American Football Obic Seaguils assistant coach Ryota Yamabae and National Football League (NFL) Detroit Lions wide receivers coach Robert Prince, took time out of their schedules to work with kids ranging from six to 18 years of age.
“I think it’s really important to continue to provide these types of opportunities for kids living here in Japan,” said Youth Sports Director, Eric Barge. “Being over here, the kids don’t have the opportunity to go to a college camp to receive this kind of training. A lot of professional athletes have their own camps that you can attend, which we don’t have here. Our focus is to continue to have things like this more often in the future.”
Coaches and players worked on techniques to include pass-catching and route running drills, blocking schemes on both defensive and offensive sides of the ball.
The clinic was the idea of Kawata, a former professional player of the X-League, who last year came with Oakland Raiders Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver, Stanford University Defensive Coordinator Derek Mason and Japan X-League American Football Obic Seagulls assistant coach Suzuki Takamasa. Kawata recently received the opportunity to join the NFL Baltimore Ravens coaching staff as an intern by way of the Bill Walsh NFL minority coaching fellowship program.
Kids were divided into groups; Kawata worked with the elementary school students, while Prince and Yamabae worked exclusively with the middle and high school-aged players.
“I think particularly for the younger kids, it was a fun opportunity for them to get training from professional football coaches,” said Barge.
High school aged students consisted of members of the Nile C. Kinnick High School Red Devils football team and prospective new players. Red Devils in attendance saw the clinic as a chance to get first hand training from a coach from the elite level of play.
“It was a good opportunity to work out with people from the pro level,” said Tarick Mitchell. “It was just another chance to help get me ready for the next football season.”
Barge added, “For the weather being rainy, we had almost 50 kids show up. It wasn’t a full-on pads and peddle to the meddle event. It was just an opportunity to give back to the military community and I think they were able to achieve that.”