Josh Carlson knows how his hockey friends feel. Carlson's friends never could explain what it was about hockey they found so appealing. In football, Carlson has now found a sport he loves but is unable to fully explain why.
"I like the contact," he said searching for any answer to give.
Carlson, 14, is getting ready to begin his freshman year at Steamboat Springs High School and will have all the contact he wants in the coming years, as he makes the move from junior high football to high school ball.
To get an early jump on the season, Carlson attended the Offense-Defense Football Camp put on by the NFL Coaches Association from June 20 to 24. Denver Broncos quarterbacks coach Pat McPherson was camp administrator and football official John Walters served as the camp director.
In both those men, along with the other coaches and players working at the camp, Carlson found people with the experience to lead him in the right direction. As a former defensive end, Carlson found the switch to wide receiver and defensive back to be equally fun and difficult.
By the end, Carlson was one of three players to receive the Directors Award given to a player who worked hard, displayed a positive attitude and made the camp more exciting for the other players. Only 10 players were recognized individually at the camp.
Carlson, who was shy in talking about himself or the award, said it was an honor to be recognized from among about 200 other campers.
The five-day camp began at 6 a.m. with a sharp whistle and ended at 8 p.m. with campers eager to find their beds. In between, there were calisthenics, meals, drills and scrimmages. Family members were allowed to watch the campers from the bleachers of the University of Denver campus or at the South High School football stadium, but they weren't permitted to come down to the field to talk.
"There was a coach that worked with the wide receivers, and he said if I keep working on what I'm doing and continue getting stronger and faster, I had a chance to play college football," Carlson said.
One area particularly important for skill position players is footwork, and Carlson said he is learning exactly why agility and quick feet are needed when playing receiver or in the defensive backfield.
"I'm currently in a voluntary weight class, and we go through different weights and work on 7-on-7 types of things and change-of-direction drills," he said.
Carlson, who is also in baseball and tae kwon do, is watching his summer dwindle away. There is about one month left before the official start of fall sports, and the soon-to-be freshman admits his summer has been pretty packed with sports -- at least in the afternoons and evenings.
"My mornings aren't so busy, so I go to Wal-Mart or watch movies with my friends," he said.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org