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Kids learn football the Gator way
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            The 2009 season may be two months away from kickoff, but football has returned to action this week at Bulloch Academy.

            The Bulloch Academy Elementary Football Camp, held Monday through Thursday behind the school, provides second to fifth graders from around the area with an opportunity to be a part of “Gator football.”

            For a sixth consecutive year, B.A coach Ronnie Hodges will be directing the youth camp dedicated to teaching the game’s basic fundamentals.

            “We do this to help these young kids develop while they are still young,” said Hodges, “so when they do get to higher levels, they have a general knowledge of blocking, passing and many other important skills.”

            This year’s camp will instruct 57 children — some of whom attend Bulloch Academy, while others travel from as far away as Louisville, GA.

            With six different stations designed for various drills, Hodges works to insure that his players receive a well rounded experience.

            “I don’t care if someone is a lineman or a quarterback. Our linemen learn to pass, and our running backs and quarterbacks learn to block,” he said. “You come to this camp and learn to be an all-around football player.”

            The majority of each day is spent running drills that emphasize kicking, passing and blocking. The drills are taught and led by a large staff assembled by Hodges.

            “I’ve got coaches, former players, current players and guys doing community outreach. They are all out here because they know what they’re doing,” he said.

            When the instruction concludes, campers move on to their favorite part of the evening. Every day finishes with obstacle courses and multiple games of “Gator Ball” — a unique variation of football with fewer rule restrictions that resembles a backyard pick-up game.

            “The first thing I’m asked every day is if we are going to play gator ball,” said Hodges. “They really enjoy it.”

            Despite hot weather, the young athletes would not want to spend their time anywhere else.

            “This is fun. It’s better than being bored at home,” said one camper. “I love it.”

            Parents will join their children on the camp’s final day to see what they have learned, listen to speakers and receive awards.

            Steve Hein, Director of the Center for Wildlife Education at Georgia Southern, will bring a bird of prey and speak to those in attendance. John Harden, a competitive cup stacking champion attending Bulloch Academy, will demonstrate his talent as well.

            Every participant will receive a certificate for their work and a t-shirt commemorating the event.

\           For information regarding next year’s camp or any other’s hosted by Bulloch Academy, contact the school at (912) 764-6297, or visit online at