LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — While most people opted to sleep in Saturday morning, more than 100 young athletes crawled out of bed around 7 a.m. to hone their football skills.
Athlete development company Beyond 2000 Enterprises, or B2G, which is short for beyond two grand, teamed up with AOS Medical Center to provide the second annual Free Youth Football Skills Camp for football players from ages of 8 to 18. The camp was held from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at St. Francis High School.
"The B2G program focuses on training speed, agility and quickness, and will break it down for each position," camp coordinator and former University of Michigan offensive lineman Courtney Morgan said. "They will learn a lot of fundamental stuff, the proper stance and blocking, stuff they will need to know at any level."
"There are professional physical therapists and athletic trainers here," Dr. Carlo Orlando of AOS Medical Center said. "These are all the kinds of people you'd see at your standard pro or college football game."
B2G Sports focuses on teaching the proper technique and skills needed to be successful in football. The 100-plus campers were broken up by positions to learn under former NCAA football players. Players learned the proper stance, footwork and technique depending on their position.
"You get one-on-one training from former college players and they've experienced what you could go through in the future," Andrew Dehne, an 11-year old defensive tackle, said. "They know what goes on later on."
Dehne, a La Cañada resident, who also plays for the La Cañada Gladiators, said one of his motivations to come out was to play on the same field of Dietrich Riley, the recently graduated St. Francis High standout, who will play at UCLA after winning three consecutive All-Area Player of the Year honors. Dehne dreams of one day getting a football scholarship to play for a big-name school like Notre Dame, USC or Florida and it would be hard to find the instruction he received on Saturday from anywhere else.
Last year, current NFL players like Joselio Hanson of the Philadelphia Eagles, Donald Penn of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chris Perry of the Cincinnati Bengals, came to help out with the camp. This year, because of NFL training camp, NFL players couldn't make it out, but past NCAA football players came to impart their knowledge on the young athletes.
The AOS Medical Center prescribed routines and nutrition necessary for athletes to make it to the next level. Orlando, who specializes in sports medicine, came to teach campers about injury prevention and proper training necessary to stay in football shape.
"Injuries aren't completely preventable, but minor ones like strains and muscle cramps are," Orlando said. "The whole idea is to get to them early so they don't have to come to my office or the emergency room."
After only 10 years in existence, B2G has already produced 50 high school All-Americans, including Riley.
"[B2G] has a lot of contacts with a ton of different college coaches to help kids get scholarships to get recognized," Morgan said. "We've taken kids from obscurity to being No. 1 recruits."
A number of B2G's alumni have experienced collegiate and professional success. CJ Gable of the USC Trojans, Dennis Dixon of the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giant Steve Smith and Marcedes Lewis of the Jacksonville Jaguars are just a few who have benefitted from the B2G Sports program.
The company was founded by Ron Allen, a former UCLA football player, and Henry Bell, a former Purdue University player.
"We scout, train and mentor young players in high school as they go on to college," Allen said. "The program was started in 2000 when I was leaving UCLA. At the time, there wasn't anything training or education-wise for top football prospects who had scholarship offers. Basically, we started this and taught kids everything we wish we would have known going into college."
The B2G Sports program also develops a player's skills through competition by putting the top athletes in the area against each other. Instead of practicing on their own with a trainer, B2G athletes "get to test their skills and moves against some of the best players around," Allen said.
"We focus on position-specific training," Allen said "Our skill training is very game-specific."
The mentoring B2G Sports members receive goes outside of the lines as well.
"We tell them what they should expect when it comes time for them to be recruited," Allen said. "We empower the players with the knowledge, understanding and necessary skills needed to excel in college."