[size=18px]NFL QB to coach at camp[/size]

By Jon Ruhlen

Parsons Sun

Area youth will have a chance to learn from a pro next week at a football camp sponsored by the Parsons Police Department.

The three-day event will feature Shaun Hill, a 1998 Parsons High School graduate who recently signed a two-year, free-agent contract as a backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Hill, who has also served as backup quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, has been involved in the camp for the past three years.

Parsons Police Sgt. Neil Springer said the camp offers youngsters a chance to learn basic football skills. It also gives police the chance to interact with young people in a positive environment.

Springer said Hill is a big hit with the children.

"The kids all love him," Springer said. "He gets along great with kids."

The three-day camp will be from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Wednesday at Marvel Park. The camp is for children from third to eighth grades.

Springer said this year an obstacle-course style skill competition will be added to the activities.

Hill isn't the only volunteer helping at the camp. Football players from Coffeyville and Independence community colleges, former players from Pittsburg State University and others will help teach the kids basic and advanced football skills.

"They all seem to have a great time," Springer said. "I know I enjoy it."

Springer said he began coaching the camp almost by accident four years ago when the Parsons Police Officers Association began to run it.

Springer and some other officers showed up to help but ended up coaching the camp when several volunteers could not make it. Springer said he's been hooked ever since.

Like Springer, Hill's involvement in the camp was by chance as well. Springer said Hill had called the police when an elderly neighbor fell and needed medical attention. After emergency personnel responded to the situation, Springer and Hill struck up a conversation, and Springer asked him if he would be interested in helping.

"That's all it took," Springer said.

Springer said that it helps to have a professional like Hill who is involved in his community.

"He shows kids that you can make it from a smaller town to the big leagues," Springer said. "He's a good person for the community to have."

Springer said the interaction with kids kept him involved in the camp every year.

"You really get to touch a lot of kids' lives when you do this," he said. "A kid I had four years ago walked up and called me coach. That's probably my biggest thrill."

The proceeds from the camp are used to help buy equipment for the Parsons Youth Football League. Springer said unlike other youth leagues, the Parsons league does not make children buy their own equipment.

In fact, enough money has been raised for the league to enable them to buy pads and helmets for the third- and fourth-graders. In recent years they have played flag football, which Springer says has actually resulted in more injuries than tackle football because of a lack of padding.

Although the camp starts Monday, parents and children who are interested in the camp can still sign up throughout the weekend. Registration forms are available at the police station.

Springer also said that any parents or community members who are interested in volunteering are more than welcome to help.

07/07/2006; 11:40:24 PM

NFL QB to coach at camp