Ellison, Shelby County host youth football camp

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – After battling through a difficult summertime workout in the sandpit next to the school on Monday, June 21, the Shelby County High School football team returned to the field that night reenergized as role models.

It’s all part of the culture first-year head coach Zeb Ellison is trying to establish in Columbiana as the leader of the Wildcats.

“Growing up in the community, every kid looks up to the high school kids,” Ellison said. “The sooner you can get them involved the better. That’s a big deal to have our players interacting with the kids and making it a community program.”

And that was the goal of Ellison’s first camp as the new head coach after previously serving as the defensive coordinator at Chelsea.

After he was announced as the next head coach of the Wildcats, one of his main goals was to not only build a winning program, but one that played for the community rather than just themselves.

During the camp, that was already evident with several former players and others in the community showing up just to witness the youth camp despite having no kids participating.

“We’ve had a great amount of support here already,” Ellison said. “It’s one thing to say you support the program, another thing to show it. We’ve already had a lot show how much they care, and I’m extremely grateful for that.”

The opening night of the camp, however, was all about making sure the campers had a good time so they could see how much fun the sport can be.

“The kids had a blast and that’s what it’s about, while also teaching a few fundamentals,” Ellison said. “If the kids are coming back, they’ll come back looking for more fun. Sometimes, we get caught up too much in them being perfect and winning at such a young age, but if they have fun, they’ll come back.”

The camp, which will continue for the next two Mondays, saw close to 45 in attendance for the first night—a number Ellison hopes will grow each week.

The camp is open to anyone from third to sixth grade, and Ellison said they won’t turn away any kids who want to be out there. They are asking for a $5 donation to help the program, but no other costs are associated with the camp.

“We hope to continue to see the numbers grow and for the kids to keep having fun,” he said.