The Broncos Rare Breed Football Camp kicked off its first day Tuesday at the Moffat County High School practice field with players such as incoming sophomore Cody Palmer taking their first cleated step of the season.
"This camp is coming at the right time for me, it's giving me a chance to loosen up before we start two-a-days in a couple of weeks," he said.
Conditioning is just one of the aspects the camp offers during its five-day span. Coming hand in hand with conditioning is one of the camp's central focuses mental toughness.
Three former Broncos, Wade Manning, Gregg Boyd and Kenny Woodard, gave the introductory lesson in mental toughness to the gridiron youth.
The camp started with a reminiscing session by Manning, who is not only a former Bronco, but is also a track and basketball coach for Aurora's Smoky Hill High School. In looking back at his own athletic career, he recalled his trek to professional football and what it took. He first played for the Dallas Cowboys.
"I knew since I was 4 years old that I wanted to play professional whatever, and I wasn't going to let anything stand in my way," he said. "I didn't even play football until I graduated college it was just an opportunity that presented itself, and I was willing to do whatever it was going to take."
Manning hopes that during the week-long camp, the participants will see improvements, much of that improvement having to do with their reliance on each other. He sees the young players being the best motivation for each other.
"I don't want to call it 'peer pressure,' since that sounds negative, but it's kind of like that," he said. "A kid will blow himself out working in the camp, doing the conditioning, drill, whatever, and he'll think that he can't hack it anymore, but he'll keep going because he'll look over and see his buddy is equally blown out, but still going. It's the idea of 'if he can hack this, I can too.'"
The camp attracted 68 participants this year, a dramatic increase from years past, when camp participants numbered in the 30s.
Much of this year's success is because of the amount of publicity Moffat County High School track coach Gary Tague has blanked the community with, along with Tague doling out scholarships to nearly every participant in the camp. The scholarship money came from the early-summer Rare Breed Golf Scramble, a fund-raising tournament.
The cost of the Rare Breed football clinic is $175 for each participant.
"The camp is too good of an experience for the kids around here to miss, so I tried to make sure that most kids got some form of a scholarship," Tague said. "The only kids that really didn't get any money were the ones who traveled in from out of town."
There were five out-of-town players who commuted to Craig for the camp. They came from all around the region from as far as Grand Junction, Steamboat Springs and Meeker.
One reason the youth make the long commute to the camp is because of its limited availability to the Western Slope Craig and Carbondale are the only two places the camp is held the western side of the state.
"I just hope the kids leave this camp having a better idea where they stand in the game, and what they need to do to improve," Manning said.