Youth Football Online visited Junior Rank’s Diamond Flight Youth Football Camp in Phoenix, Arizona this past weekend. We enjoyed the picture perfect 80 degrees sunny days and the warm hospitality we received. Junior Rank has a variety of experienced coaches running their camp along with the added twist of having the Marines, that’s right I said the Marines, in attendance. All coaches have either played or coached at the youth, high school, college and NFL levels, that’s extensive experience coaching all levels of football. This was one of the best-organized youth football camps I have ever attended during my entire coaching career.
The Junior Rank football camp kicked off with a parents’ welcome and a general meeting with staff introductions. This camp showcased some of the best youth football (ages 11-17) talent in the country. The kids sat calmly as each coach was introduced and as CEO Shaon Berry spoke opening words of encouragement. “We’re looking for differentiators” said Shaon Berry with the kids listening intently. The USMC leadership seminar then commenced for 30 minutes as a Marine Major discussed leadership traits with the youth football athletes on and off the field. The kids soon after formed an orderly line and headed toward the field. For the next 30 minutes, the US Marine Corps took control of the camp instituting a dynamic warm-up. It was a rigorous and challenging mix of calisthenics and stretching. The Drill Instructors (DI) did a masterful job of preparing these kids and setting the tone for the weekend. The Marines had a great presence at this camp. I would estimate up to 15 Marines in attendance, the discipline and leadership the Marines instilled at the camp can best be described as awesome.
As the dynamic warm-ups ended, the kids hydrated, then it was time for football. Coach Oscar Dillard, as the camp director, orchestrated the camp seamlessly. One of the key strengths of this youth football camp is the coaching staff. What stood out the most was the passion these coaches displayed for teaching the game- evident that these coaches truly love the game of football. This was a two-day camp and the coaches never let up, they taught with great enthusiasm from start to finish. The Junior Rank Camp offers expert coaches, some of the best in the country, for each position. The coaches really challenged these youth football athletes to become better. They did a great job working with kids that needed a little extra help with technique. If a kid made a mistake, he was asked to do it again until it was correct. The coaches also did a great job of pumping these athletes up and making the experience fun and upbeat.
Each youth football drill was done with a competitive spirit. Ex-NFL players Mark McMillian, Byron Evans and the talented group of coaches really pushed the players during the drills. They focused on football fundamentals during all individual position periods. After the kids went through a crisp individual session with their position coaches, they put it all together during the 1 on 1 and 7 on 7s drills. The 1 on 1 and 7 on 7s were well organized. During the competitive periods ( 1 on 1, 7 on 7) it was apparent that these coaches did a great job because these players played with precise technique. The fundamentals they learned carried into the game type competitions.
Favorite quote overheard at the camp: ‘If football was first, then you’d own a jumprope”. If football was first, then you wouldn’t be playing video games, you’d be getting better.” – Coach Ernest Jones
The Junior Rank staff operated the camp with great purpose and organization. All the coaches were on the same page and the camp operated fluently. The staff was well informed on how a productive youth football camp should be operated. In this camp they did a great job of utilizing every minute they had thereby giving parents their money’s worth. The staff did a great job of making sure the kids were hydrated and took the proper amount of breaks. They also had a certified athletic trainer at the camp in case of injury.
Why we love Junior Rank- they focus on the importance of hard work not just on the football field, but also in the classroom. The organization stresses the importance of education and discipline. After every drill they brought the kids in and talked about the importance of education. We look for the same characteristics when selecting kids for the Youth Football Online All-Star program.
Here’s YFO All-Star Izzy Araiza completing an offensive lineman drill:
One of the key points that we noticed with this camp was how friendly and accommodating the staff was. Every member we came in contact with was a pleasure to meet and was very helpful. The staff did a great job of talking to parents and addressing all questions. They handled themselves with upmost professionalism.
Youth Football Online would like to thank CEO Shaon Berry, VP of Operations Glenn Deveaux and the entire Junior Rank team for allowing us to report on their football camp.