Utica, N.Y. - It was the final day of 'A Call to Men Football Camp' at Utica College, Tuesday, a two-day camp aimed at teaching not only football but life skills as well.
The UC coaching staff teamed up with local organization 'Kristen's Fund' and national organization 'A Call to Men' to hold a free camp aimed at teaching lessons both on-and-off the field.
'A Call to Men' is a violence prevention organization that has worked with training men in organizations such as the NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, the U.S. Military and more.
"I’ve been very impressed with 'A Call to Men' group, just tremendous guys," said Utica College head football coach, Blaise Faggiano. Watching the kids and how they respond to them...they’re talking about how to handle situations, what happens if someone comes at you in a fight and how you handle that, how do you handle when you see someone bullying or picking on someone else, there really teaching them how to be men."
'Kristen's Fund' is a local organization created in honor of Kristin Palumbo Longo, who was killed in a domestic violence case in 2009. The organization aims to spread awareness and prevention education.
The camp ran Monday and Tuesday, and taught approximately 200 local youth and high school athletes character development, as well as, prevention strategies for dating violence and sexual assault.
"While the guys are on the field actually being their authentic selves as football players, in between drills we're stopping and having conversations about what does it mean to model healthy manhood what does it mean to rethink some of the things that we’ve been taught as men," said RahK Lash, a resource trainer for 'A Call to Men.' "We're really trying to teach them to try and act expand in their range of emotions and be able to express that to build better relationships with each other, better relationships as a team, and to develop a voice and use their platform as football players, so that they can stand up and take a stand and violence."
All involved in the camp said that the combination of on-the-field training coupled with off-the-field is something that should be more prevalent in sports.
"Sometimes you just get a one-sided coaching equation. It's only about winning or losing and the sport itself," said Joe Polumbo, co-founder of 'Kristen's Fund.' "I love personally to see coaches who are bringing in life lessons, really mentoring and bringing kids along. And this particular subject matter, healthy masculinity I think really should be implemented more often."
Both Faggiano and Palumbo said they hope to do this camp again next year, and that they hope to expand it to other sports as well.