COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Cameron O’Neal firmly held a blocking pad and towered over a young boy, who will try to run through him.
O’Neal, a junior-to-be at St. Charles, is here to teach. He reminds one player to keep his head up while attacking a blocker.
“I want to make sure they leave here with some great instruction they can take and use this fall.” he says.
O’Neal was one of the students who gathered for a Central Catholic League youth football camp. It’s a unique gathering of the 5 CCL schools, their head coaches and several players, united by the common goal of growing football at the youth level.
Coaches say they can see participation numbers dropping each year. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, football participation in Ohio dropped from 55,000 in 2010 to slightly less than 43,000 in 2017.
It’s becoming tougher to convince parents that the positive attributes of football outweigh the physical risks.
CCL coaches and players plan to conduct three youth camps this spring, hoping to grow youth interest in the sport.
This week, Ohio State announced a free clinic to teach safe tackling techniques to youth and middle school football coaches. That clinic is set for Tuesday, May 22 at 6pm at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.