NCAA Youth Football Clinic continues growth
Football: NCAA Football Youth Clinic puts together best year with about 325 participants Saturday.
UCLA and former St. Francis football player Dietrich Riley runs through a demonstration during the NCAA Football Youth Skills Clinic, which took place at the Jackie Robinson Park in Pasadena on Saturday. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer / July 21, 2012)
While the humidity hovered around 40% and temperatures ranged between 83-91 degrees, those conditions didn’t stop the soaring number of participating boys and girls, aged 5 to 14, which totaled near 325 at Saturday morning’s registration.
“This has been our best year over the last three years,” said Stephanie Montano, the event’s media coordinator. “The first year, we had about 200-250, the second year we had between 200-300 and now we’re easily over 300.”
The clinic, which was conducted by players and coaches from USC, UCLA and Pasadena City College, was a collaboration between the NCAA’s Youth Initiative, the Rose Bowl Game committee and the city of Pasadena.
Overall, the clinic’s attendees were broken up into eight groups rotated into eight nine-minute stations, which were run by three to four players and coaches who specialized in a specific football skill.
One of the clinic’s biggest draws was UCLA junior defensive back Dietrich Riley, a Pasadena native and former standout at St. Francis High, where he was an unprecedented three-time All-Area Football Player of the Year.
Riley instructed his youths on backpedaling and on the finer skills of playing in the secondary.
“This city means so much to me and I’ll never forget it,” said Riley, who proclaimed himself “fully healed” from neck surgery performed in April. “I remember when I was in high school, how much these camps meant to me and what I learned. I love seeing these kids getting this benefit too.”
Pasadena Ponies player Ahmir Davis wasted no time in testing Riley when the 13-year-old sidestepped the UCLA defender and hauled in a 10-yard reception.
“I know who he is,” a somewhat content Davis said. “I’m just out here trying to do my best and learn.”
The eagerness of the children proved inspirational to PCC quarterback Justin Posthuma, a one-time teammate of Riley at both UCLA and St. Francis.
The incoming sophomore, who missed all but the first two games last season at PCC with an injury, had perspired through his white practice shirt, but was anything but tired.
“These kids have rekindled my passion to play,” said Posthuma, who worked at the quarterback station. “I just want to play football and I love spending time with these kids.”
Posthuma was one of several Lancers to participate, including offensive coordinator Shandon Silva, who was hoping the clinic would help PCC land its next great athlete at the park that bears the namesake of its most famous alumnus, Jackie Robinson.
“These types of events are very important because we want to remind people that PCC is around,” Silva said. “We want to connect with the community more than ever and who knows, maybe some of these kids will be leading their own practices as a Lancer in the future.”
Incoming PCC freshman Marciss Grigsby, formerly of Los Angeles Hamilton High, echoed his pleasure at instructing the clinic goers.
“You have to give back to the community. We were all in this position at one time,” Grigsby said. “This is fun.”
The clinic ran from 10 a.m. to 11:45 and lunch was provided for the attendees afterward.
“I think I had most fun at the quarterback [station],” said 8-year-old Pasadena resident Mayze Bryant. “But everything was fun. I came to learn and I learned a lot.”