Posted 8 months ago
By John Axtell
CHADRON – From the shores of Alaska to the beaches of Puerto Rico, Chadron State College and its football program are becoming a household name.
That’s because in the last month, high school student-athletes from both Alaska and Puerto Rico have benefited from the instruction of Chadron State College coaches.
Last month, football camps drew some 1,500 players to the CSC campus…including five high school students from Kodiak, Alaska. Then immediately after the camps ended, five Eagles coaches flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to conduct a camp for the Dorado Football Club…the first camp in the island commonwealth led by an NCAA-member school.
The five coaches… head coach Jay Long, offensive coordinator Chris Stein, defensive coordinator Jeff Larson, special teams coordinator and secondary coach Craig Jersild, and wide receivers coach Joe McLain spent a week in San Juan teaching 8 club teams the fundamentals of American football.
“It was such a positive experience for everyone involved, including all the coaches,” Long said. “We were the first school to visit Puerto Rico in that capacity and that really meant a lot to the players and coaches. It was a positive thing for Chadron State and kids who never heard of us, heard of us. We helped bring Chadron State to them.”
Plans for the camp in Puerto Rico began in the spring when Long received a call from Jose Arreseigor, Dorado Football Club Coordinator and head coach. Arreseigor knew that Puerto Rico natives Alex Rodriguez and Jan Karlos Medina had just concluded standout careers for the Eagles and he wanted Long and his staff to conduct a camp.
Rodriguez, who will student teach this fall, and several other Puerto Rico natives were volunteer coaches for the Eagles’ staff, and also helped the CSC coaches by translating their instructions to the players.
“Football is kind of a universal language but to communicate the finer details is interesting,” Long said. “About half of the kids spoke English and we coached them like we would our own athletes. Then, once they had the technique down, they would start translating it to the other kids. They learned a lot by watching us and learning our technique but we couldn’t have done it without Alex [Rodriguez] and the other coaches.”
Long said the five-day camp in Puerto Rico followed a similar structure to the other CSC football camps. The first three days focused on technique, offenses and defenses were installed Thursday and the campers had a scrimmage Friday.
“Honestly, the camp was a lot of fun because those kids love playing football,” Long said. “We’re very fortunate in the United States with football. The football fields in Puerto Rico are mainly soccer fields and they don’t have crowns, so when it rains the fields are a muddy mess.
We had a tropical storm on Wednesday and it poured on us. The kids didn’t care, though. They were running through the puddles and sliding through the mud. They weren’t going to let rain stop them from enjoying the camp.”
Adding to the special nature of the camp was the inclusion of Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens and C.J. Miles of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Long joined both to visit a children’s hospital, a trip that was featured on Puerto Rico’s national news.
“It was quite an experience and it was neat to watch the professional athletes and how everyone responds to them,” Long said. “I felt very privileged to be associated with something like that.”
Long said he and his staff hope to make the Puerto Rico camp an annual event, noting that teams in the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean nations have contacted Arreseigor about being invited to future camps.