Great ideas frequently spring forth from necessity.
A few years back Central Valley football coach Rick Giampietri realized that the cost of attending a summer camp was growing out of reach of too many of his players.
The idea was simple: If you can’t take the kids to the camp, bring the camp to the kids. And thus, the Border League Football Camp was born.
The camp’s success in such a short time is astounding, and the level of quality competition has been first-rate. Perennial powers Ferris, Mead and Gonzaga Prep signed on immediately, as did North Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Sandpoint. The lineup of teams prompted the camp to resurrect the name of the old Spokane Valley/North Idaho league.
This year’s camp, which runs June 17-21, adds Lewis and Clark and the Glacier Wolfpack from Kalispell, Mont., to bring the total number of participating teams to an even dozen.
“We have so many teams that we’ve broken some of the camp down into pods, with teams at Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint as well as University and CV,” Giampietri said. “That way it’s manageable.”
June 18 will be something new for the camp: College Day.
“We’re going to have 30 college coaches here to work with the kids,” Giampietri said. “The University of Washington is sending over five coaches, including the new quarterbacks coach, Marques Tuiasosopo. Eastern is coming with Beau Baldwin’s whole staff. Montana is coming with its whole staff. Idaho’s new head coach is sending a coach and Idaho State, Boise State and Carroll are all sending coaches.
“Normally you pay twice as much to go to a college camp and you see one college’s coaching staff. Now they’re all coming here. It’s exciting. We’ll bring everyone together – put half the camp at CV and half at U-Hi. We’ll split the college coaches into two groups and they’ll both be at one site in the morning and the other in the afternoon.”
Working with college coaches always adds some extra excitement to the summer workouts, Giampietri said. That includes the coaching staff.
“I’m looking forward to learning something new from these college coaches,” he said. “I always learn something new anyway. You learn something from the way another team runs a certain play and things like that. If you see a new play that one of the Idaho teams runs, you can always ask them about it. You can’t always do that with the teams from your own league, of course.”
During the season, a team plays against itself every day, and that gets stale in a hurry. In the camp, teams run drills against one another. Each time a team lines up to run a play, there’s an opposing team across the ball ready to go.
“You better come ready to go at this camp,” he said. “You’ve got to be ready because you’re always going against some very good competition. Most years we’ve had at least one state champion. Sometimes we have two.”
Wednesday night is the other highlight of the camp: the Overtime Classic.
Teams go head-to-head in live competition using the WIAA’s rules governing overtime. Each team gets possession, first-and-goal at the opponent’s 10 yard line. Winner gets bragging rights.
Last year, the final two teams were Ferris and Central Valley, with the Bears winning.
“We have some great scrimmages, and I think it’s actually better than getting game experience,” Giampietri said. “Here, if a kid makes a mistake you can actually stop the action and coach. Everyone’s very good about helping out and letting each coach get in and correct things like that.”