Rams senior creates youth camp to improve athletics in South Routt
Soroco High School senior Jed Kirby has noticed that the Rams football and boys basketball teams haven’t been doing well for a few years now, and he saw that the middle school teams were performing similarly.
While many people probably had the same observations, Kirby took action.
Determined to improve athletics in South Routt, Kirby created a six-week youth program for young athletes in kindergarten through fifth grade, teaching them basketball, volleyball and football.
He hopes to continue the program annually.
“There’s not a whole lot for them,” Kirby said. “We had youth basketball when I was in elementary school, but that was it and it kind of died off. Just seeing our middle school struggle a lot — and even in high school we’re starting to struggle — I think it’s just beneficial to get started at a younger age, just some exposure and how to work as a team and realize you’re a competitor.”
While still managing the last half of his senior year, Kirby curates three lesson plans for every day of the camp, dividing the participants into age groups. Having a laid out plan has been beneficial, but executing it has proven difficult.
“It’s more challenging than I thought it would be,” Kirby admitted. “Not because of them. It’s just hard to take what you know and make it beneficial for them.”
He’s established a habit of talking about a word-of-the-day, which has helped focus each session.
“I talk about what that means, and at the end of the day, we come back together and make them explain to me how we worked toward that word of the day, whether it was ‘teamwork’ or ‘patience’ or ‘perseverance,’” Kirby said. “I run out of words really quickly.”
On Wednesday, May 4, in the gym in South Routt Elementary School, Kirby introduced the word “desire” to about 25 kids. The young participants nailed the definition, saying it’s when you really want something. Kirby said that was exactly right, and he explained that a deep desire can help someone get through being tired or upset.
Then they got to work on football drills.
Kirby has had help from community members who support his idea. Casey Hill, the incoming football coach and athletic director, jumped on board from the beginning and served as the supervisor for the school-sponsored camp.
He also got help from coaches Johnny DeCosta, Jeannie Jo Logan and Soroco graduate Makinley Parker to name a few.
He also had the support of the superintendent at Soroco, Rim Watson, and athletic director Jo Parker to get through the logistics of getting gym space and managing liabilities. Once he got some equipment, they were up and running.
“That was all the preliminary work we had to do,” Kirby said. “In hindsight, it seemed like a lot more when it was happening.”
Jo was so impressed by Kirby’s initiative and passion, she nominated him for the Colorado High School Activities Association Wendy’s High School Hot Shot Award
The camp cost $30 for each participant, which included a T-shirt. The camp concludes its six-week run next Friday.
Kirby said he’s secured a time for the kids to play football at the high school under the lights and host a barbecue.
Kirby said he doesn’t want to teach in the future, but he hopes to coach and sees this as a way to get some experience while benefiting athletics in his hometown for years to come.
“The parents are excited in the stands; the kids are having fun. I think it’s just great,” said Jo Parker. “As an athletic director, that is where we need to build.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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