With gas prices going through the roof, you’ve got to wonder why Cumberland Academy football coach Jeff LeMay would drive three of his players more than 400 miles away from home in Marietta, GA. to attend a football camp in Perkinston, MS.
“I called all around trying to figure out where to go, and everyone told me this is the best lineman camp in the southeast,” LeMay said. “We’re entering our second year playing football, so we want to get a really good foundation for our program. The key to a good foundation on a football team begins with the offensive and defensive lines.”
Many other high school coaches agree, that’s why the fourth annual Lineman Camp at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Perkinston Campus has become an annual summer excursion for coaches like LeMay, whose team plays eight-man football in and around the Atlanta suburb.
“My guys are sharing rooms, so they get to bond more then they have before, he said. “These guys are going to go back home and be the teachers to the guys that didn’t get to come.”
The camp routine isn’t anything to write home about. There are no campfires, no roasting marshmallows, and very few sing-a-longs. From June 15-18, it’s three-a-day workouts for three days in a row in the sweltering South Mississippi heat.
At the end of a particularly intense morning practice, camp organizer and Gulf Coast head football coach Steve Campbell acknowledged the resilient effort put forth by the high school athletes.
“It was really hot today, easily one of the hottest days of the summer,” he said. “But you came out, worked hard, and you pushed through it.”
Students and coaches from several Coast high schools like St. Martin, George County, Ocean Springs, Pass Christian, and Pascagoula attended the event, as well as other out-of-state teams like the group from Milton, Fla.
“I know what kind of camp Coach Campbell runs,” said Jason Summers, Milton football coach. “It gives our guys a chance to work together and stay together away from home, and it’s always a top-notch camp.”
His colleague Chris Hendrix agrees.
“Now they have a bond,” Hendrix said. “It’s something they can share for the rest of the summer, and they can build on it going into summer and fall practice.”