I had a chance to sit down with Chris Fritzsching, Director of Youth Football for the Detroit Lions, to talk about what makes Detroit Lions Youth Football summer camps the premier football camps for kids in Michigan. Detroit Lions Youth Football summer camps kick off on June 9th. Click here for a full schedule of Detroit Lions youth football camps happening this summer across Michigan.
Don't forget, we're running a contest where you could send your son or daugther to a Detroit Lions Youth Football Camp this summer. Click here for details.
Oakland County Moms: You must be screaming busy as you head into another summer of Detroit Lions Youth Football Camps.
Chris Fritzsching, Director of Youth Football, The Detroit Lions: Right now we're really busy. It's getting the kids signed up, getting the coaches confirmed, getting the paperwork done and ordering equipment, staffing, marketing, promoting, working out agreements with TV stations and radio. It's the biggest summer we've had. We've got 23 camps this summer.
Oakland County Moms: Does every NFL city offer Youth Football Summer Camps? Do they all follow the same format as The Detroit Lions Youth Football Summer Camps?
Chris Fritzsching, Director of Youth Football, The Detroit Lions: They don't. There are quite a few NFL teams that don't do the camp programs the way we do. Those that do conduct them - I'm not sure how they format their camp structure but they don't do as many camps as we do. We feel we're hopefully on the upside of the cutting edge of providing these types of programs. This is the 9th year of our program and we're starting to see more and more emphasis on these types of programs with the other NFL teams.
Oakland County Moms: How long have the camps been running and how long have you been the director of the summer camps?
Chris Fritzsching, Director of Youth Football, The Detroit Lions: I started the program in 2004. I presented them the concept based on my background and things I've done in the past.
Oakland County Moms: What was your influence? Just that you wanted to do it?
Chris Fritzsching, Director of Youth Football, The Detroit Lions: I was always a football coach and always coaching youth and high school levels. My background, prior to that… I was the Marketing Coordinator for Pistons Basketball camps and clinics. I took a lot of ideas from them... Concepts, formats... I wasn't a basketball coach, I was a football coach so I basically said I was going to take some of these ideas and put them in a football setting. In '99 I started a small company called 1st and Goal Football just doing football camps in the Oakland County area. Camps, private sessions and little clinics for kids. I worked with the Detroit Fury (arena football) and did their football camps and clinics. When I was done there, I spent a summer directing youth football camps for the Bears and Packers and their programs were done by an outside entity. A combination of all that, I put a plan together and presented it to the Lions organization. The Lions liked it brought me on in January of '04.
Oakland County Moms: The camper to staff ratio at the Lions youth camps is incredible. How do you find such good help and is it difficult to get your staff to work with younger kids?
Chris Fritzsching, Director of Youth Football, The Detroit Lions: Our staff is college and high school football coaches from around the state. We always want to maintain a ratio of 10 campers to every 1 instructor. The staff is a very important part of our program
Oakland County Moms: Sure, the Lions youth football camps are fun but I was surprised at how effective the discipline and structure approach works for the kids. Do you find that's what sets you guys apart from other football camps for kids in Michigan?
Chris Fritzsching, Director of Youth Football, The Detroit Lions: I can't speak on what other football camps do around the state but what we wanted to do ultimately is provide that structure. Keep the kids motivated and eager to learn something new. We structure our stations to a limit of 20-25 minutes so kids are always moving and doing something new. If you watch a Lions practice, that's the way it is there. Segments, drills and boom! They're going off to the next station. That's how we wanted to structure it. The whistle blows and you move on to the next drill. I realize a lot of kids can't go out to see Lions practice at Allen Park. But, at the same time, if that's how NFL practices run - we wanted to implement that same kind of structure and philosophy within our football camp program.
Oakland County Moms: Any sneak previews as to which current or former Detroit Lions will be a part of the camps this year?
Chris Fritzsching, Director of Youth Football, The Detroit Lions: Tentatively... Rob Sims our Left Guard, Andre Fluellen one of our Defensive Tackles will be out there. Will Heller, one of our Tight Ends... We've got about 5 or 6 guys lined up. It's always something in progress. We've had Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril out there in the past. Bottom line is that we love finding guys that want to be out there with the kids. They really work with the kids! Those are the experiences that make it memorable and exciting for the kids.
Oakland County Moms: Do you know of any Detroit Lions Youth Football camp alums that have gone on to bigger things in football?
Chris Fritzsching, Director of Youth Football, The Detroit Lions: It's hard to keep up! Detroit Lions Youth Football Camps are for children ages 6-14. A lot of times we don't necessarily know what high school they're going to attend. We've had a couple coaches monitor, whether they've heard about it in the paper, about some that have gone on to Division I programs to play football.
Click here for more info on Detroit Lions Youth Football Camps taking place this summer.
Click here for an Oakland County Moms review of Detroit Lions Youth Football Camps.