ALLOUEZ — A new Catholic football camp will combine on-field instruction with community, virtue and servant leadership. Our Lady of Victory Football Camp, developed by St. Norbert Abbey, Catholic Athletes for Christ (CAC) and Catholic Kids Publishing, will be offered June 22-25 at St. Norbert College, De Pere. The camp is for high school players entering grades 9-12 in the fall of 2017.
Top regional coaches will staff the camp, said organizer Tom Wall. Due to WIAA rules limiting off-season contact by high school coaches, the instructors will primarily be from colleges and universities. Coaches will deliver talks about virtues at practices, and priests and additional speakers will help the campers become better young men off the field.
“I believe we actually let these kids down by expecting too little of them,” said Wall. “We need to call upon them to dig deep and discover their unique gifts and live up to their God-given potential.”
Each coach’s talk will be centered on one of the seven core Catholic Athletes for Christ virtues — charity, honesty, humility, meekness, moderation, purity and sportsmanship — added Wall, author of “Gifts from Our Father, A Catholic Prayer Book for Kids.” “Guest speakers will talk about their faith. They will be football guys whose names many will recognize.”
Daily Mass, confession and other sacramental opportunities will be a part of each day. The Catholic camp is open to players of all faiths. All athletes are expected to be participants in faith activities.
“Initially, it wasn’t going to be an overnight camp,” said Wall. “The whole camp is built on community, so everything we work on during the day, we want them to stick around and apply.”
The camp has been a longtime goal for Wall. Conversations at the Green Bay Men’s Conference, “Men for All Seasons,” held last March, fueled him to “bring it to life,” he said.
“When I was in high school, I went to camp at UW-La Crosse,” he said. “I remember the coaches and what they taught, but it wasn’t about what happens on the football field. I always had this desire to get back into football. The game to me is more about life lessons.
“Football, and sports, in general, have always been an incredible teaching tool because it forces players to rely on each other, to discipline their minds and bodies and instills in them a desire to be their best at all times,” added Wall. “We believe this camp will be that opportunity to combine their passion for sports with a desire to know, love and serve the Lord.”
Catholic Athletes for Christ, established in 2006 in response to St. John Paul II’s call to evangelize the world of sports and his establishment of an office dedicated to church and sports in 2004, is seeking more high school chapters. Catholic sports camps provide an opportunity to grow the mission.
“Working with the Norbertines and CAC extends beyond Green Bay,” said Wall. “We can get a template together and bring camps to other areas. The hope is that this will extend into a series of Our Lady of Victory sports camps. A basketball camp is in the plans.”
The cost for Our Lady of Victory Football Camp is $495 per player and includes dormitory accommodations and all meals. Participants will also receive a “camp T-shirt and other swag,” said Wall.
To register or for more camp information, visit olvovfootball.com.