ROCHELLE — In another indication that athletics are returning to normal in the Hub City, head coach Kyle Kissack and members of the Rochelle Township High School football program teamed up to hold their annual youth skills camp for third through eighth-grade players.
With the Rochelle Junior Tackle season only weeks away, dozens of local players gathered at the RTHS practice fields, working with RTHS coaches and athletes through several drills including throwing, running, passing, receiving and blocking. After both the 2020 camp and the 2020 Rochelle Junior Tackle season were canceled due to COVID-19, Kissack said he and his athletes were excited for the opportunity to host the next generation of RTHS football players.
“It makes your heart happy,” Kissack said. “Our kids have missed the opportunity to serve the community and be with the younger kids. It makes our hearts happy, not only as a staff but as a program. The Junior Tackle program has given so much to the kids and we’ve had a really fun week… These kids haven’t played organized football in two years, so we’ve spent a lot of time working on the fundamentals and developing the chemistry needed to play RTHS football.”
Camp kicked off on Monday, July 19 and ran through Thursday, July 22. The one-week camp leads directly into the start of the Rochelle Junior Tackle season, which begins with practices on Monday, July 26. For Kissack and the Hubs, hosting the annual youth camp once again provides Rochelle’s grade-school and middle-school athletes with an early start before high school.
“We talk a lot about alignment and technique,” Kissack said. “There’s consistency within the Junior Tackle program and the concepts taught in the Junior Tackle program are the exact same concepts we’re teaching at the high school level. When the kids come in as fifth-grade athletes playing tackle football, they’re building a foundation to last through their senior years of high school. I think that’s one thing that’s helped our football program be successful over the years.”
Rochelle Township High School’s football program will host its annual Lift-A-Thon at RTHS on Tuesday, July 27 at 6 p.m. The Lift-A-Thon will take place in the student parking lot on the north side of the school. RTHS athletes will compete against each other in bench press, power clean and squat while also testing their 40-yard dash times and their vertical leap marks.
The Lift-A-Thon also serves as a fundraiser, with parents having the chance to sponsor an athlete with a donation per pound as well as a flat donation. Individuals willing to sponsor athletes for $25 or more will have their names entered into a raffle drawing for multiple prizes including two RTHS football display helmets, two sideline polos, two sideline hats, two $50 Headon’s Fine Meats gift cards, one insulated tote bag, one memorial paver and more.