Florida State Seminoles: FSU Youth Camps Build Community Through Football

There shouldn’t be a question that at 10 a.m. on a Saturday, kids as young as seven aren’t just listening, but with accuracy pay attention to someone talking, especially when they see fancy football equipment around them.

But it was there – a group of more than 30 children, gathered outside the Joker Marching Stadium in Lakeland, clinging to every word as Florida State Seminoles head football coach Mike Norvell, the was presiding, channeling the same level of energy you’d expect to see from him during a mid-season training.

“It’s not just a chance to get better at football, it’s a chance to get better at everything,” he told the group, repeating a mantra that embodied Norvell’s tenure – how you do anything is how you do everything. “When I say look up, you say keep climbing, okay? “



“Keep climbing!”

“In my 30 years of training, I’ve never seen someone like him,” said Reese, now head coach of Monte Vista Christian School in Watsonville, Calif. “He’s the only kid I know who would watch a football game on TV and spend all the time analyzing it. ‘Why are they doing this? Why are they doing this?’

“He was 12 and already looked at the game more deeply than anyone.”

Norvell has always been one to emphasize what football means not only athletically, but to a community. He has mentioned on several occasions how football has helped him raise him and provide him with structure as he grew up, while constantly referring to his coaches at all levels, from Pop Warner to college, as true mentors and educators for who he wanted to be.

Extract from his introductory press conference in December 2019:

To my former coaches, David Reese, coached me in the peewee football league. To Mike Barber, who coached me in high school. To Clint Conque, who trained me in college. To Gus Malzahn who hired me as a graduate offensive assistant at the University of Tulsa. Todd Graham, with whom I spent nine years as an assistant coach, gave me the opportunity to be a coordinator, to really live my dream as a Division I assistant.

The impact you have had on my life helping me to build myself, to develop myself, to support myself through all the decisions that have been made, to my growth as a coach and as a person, I am eternally grateful to you. You are the reason I do what I do. I hope that one day I can have players who look at me the way I look at you, respect you, for the work you have done for me and my growth journey.

Reese helped care for Norvell, a child in a single parent family, and encouraged his interest and natural approach to football, serving as a grassroots builder that would become his coaching philosophy. Barber, his high school trainer, also ran a ministry in prison, taking the time to travel and visit inmates, pray with them.

“A lot of the values ​​he had were things that I made values ​​in my life, just because they were the right way to do things,” Norvell said in a 2016 profile.

“That’s why (Reese and Barber) inspired me. Because it wasn’t just football.

Knowing full well what play, what being part of a team, community and leadership can do for a child who has experienced it firsthand, Norvell walks the walk when it comes to give back.

As you watch Norvell train children who can barely read an entire book with enthusiasm and vigor, you understand that there is real substance behind those words.

He and his team gave it their all this Saturday morning, even though it was a free camp, although some of these kids literally had no idea who these coaches were or why they were doing everything they could. were doing.

There is no recruiting benefit for these camps – at more, there might be an extremely talented 8th grader who, maybe four years from now, will put experience a little more weight when deciding where to go. These aren’t fundraising missions, booster handshake events, or photo ops (aside from parents thrilled to see their kids trying to hit a battle dummy properly), these are legitimate experiences and uplifting for Florida communities unparalleled by any other staff before him at FSU – or really, any other great university in the state.

Here’s a Power Five college football staff member, along with assistants, hanging out for photoshoots, casually chatting with parents, coaching elementary school kids free, only to give them the opportunity to experience it.

“We all need direction,” he said in an interview with Tomahawk Nation earlier this year. “And as a coach I can kind of put everything I have in them to help provide them with the structure of what it takes to be successful and push them to levels they may not know. to be not that they’re able to be able to be able to achieve. It’s a profession and a position that I have always respected. The great coaches that I had, as I grew up, you know, they helped you invest in me not only what i was a football player but the young man and i am so glad i can.

There is almost Ted Lasso –Sincere esque to Norvell’s desire to coach winners not only on the pitch, but off the pitch as well, and he’s constantly on display. Every coach falls prey to the coach’s talk (the generic non-responses we’ve heard from everyone at every level), but for Norvell, it expresses the honesty of his desire to rise and rise. make an impact throughout the game. The way he runs at each of these stops, picking up kids too young to participate but still curious and helping them through the exercises, shows how much the game has meant to him and how well he knows he can pay off.

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