Monday, August 03, 2009

Katzenmoyer camp big on teaching, fundamentals


July 27, 2009

Offset against a dark, rainy sky, Andy Katzenmoyer still cuts an imposing figure.

But it's not Missouri quarterback Corby Jones the big linebacker is stalking while heading toward the sideline on this day, but a group of campers to instruct at his first annual Youth Football Camp at Westerville South High School Wednesday, July 22.

The hit against Jones, which can still be viewed on YouTube, isn't something any of the campers age 7-14 saw or remember seeing live, but that didn't dampen the message the Big Kat was delivering, nor the kids' eagerness to soak it in.

"It's very exciting," Katzenmoyer said of the camp. "We've had a really good turnout for the first year, around 75 kids. Really good coaches have come in, and so far, it's gone really well. The kids have learned a lot and they're having fun."

Former Ohio State University players James Cotton, Fred Pagac and Derek Ross were on hand to help coach the defense, while Greg Frey and Dee Miller helped with the offense.

"We really wanted to come in and give them, first of all, the expertise in coaching that these guys have gotten at the college level and professional level," Katzenmoyer said. "(We wanted) to teach fundamentals. Because the age range is 7-14, some of the kids have no experience, and some of the kids have a lot of experience.

"You always need fundamentals, whether you're a 7-year-old or a 27-year-old playing in the pros. We really harped on the fundamentals of the game -- footwork, technique, hand placement, where you drop step as a quarterback -- every little thing that will make them better."

Hugo Quint, the DeSales strength and conditioning coach, and Katzenmoyer's father-in-law, spoke to the campers, as did South football coach Rocky Pentello.

Katzenmoyer has been involved with the South program by lending a hand to Pentello over the years as a coach, something he's done well with. But how can a player who seemed so instinctual on the field impart wisdom to young players?

"I've always been a student of the game," he explained. "Granted, instincts play a factor in some players' abilities, but when it comes down to it, you have to know situations, down and distance, formations and the defense you're in.

"(You have to) compute that all in your head before the play actually happens. Then you eliminate 80 percent of plays just by those things.

"I just try to make it fun and easy for the kids. You don't have to make it rocket science, but I try to convey an idea and a thought that, no matter what, they can take with them."

Cotton, who laid a similar de-cleating hit on Jones the season after Katzenmoyer's, has been involved with raising cancer awareness through OSU since leaving professional football a few years ago.

"It's been really exciting catching up with Andy," Cotton said. "I hadn't talked to him probably since we played and I'd only seen him in passing. To see him put this camp together and get some kids out there (was good), and we had some guys come out to speak to the kids about some life skills, and I talked to them about the effect of tobacco.

"It's been really great for the kids to be here and get that tutelage from Andy and some of the other people who came out."

Katzenmoyer, who currently co-owns LIFT Personal Training and is launching Katzenmoyer Consulting, which will help "high school and college-level football programs realize their full potential," reflected on his playing days at Ohio State after spending time with some of this former teammates during the camp.

"It makes me go back and it's not a life I live anymore," he said. "We can reflect and look back and see what we're doing now, and the irony is, the guys who were successful in that point in time are successful now, whether it be in football or out of football, whatever it is in life.

"It's fun to catch up, reminisce and talk about the good old days."

"I've always been a student of the game. Granted, instincts play a factor in some players' abilities, but when it comes down to it, you have to know situations, down and distance, formations and the defense you're in."

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