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Cougars make impact

College of the Canyons hosts fifth annual COC Youth Football Camp

Posted: July 16, 2009 9:45 p.m.
Updated: July 17, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Zachary Lasker, 10, paticipates in defensive drills Thursday at the College of the Canyons. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. kids took part in drills and listened to COC coaches and players about the sport and life lessons.

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College of the Canyons head football coach Garett Tujague lined up over the football.

Returning first team all-Western State Conference defensive back Arron Fisher stood in the backfield and called out his cadence.

Rather than “Red 55” or “Blue 17,” he took a playful jab by exaggerating his coach’s age.

“Coach Tujague is 55. Coach Tujague is 55.”

Fisher took the snap, pulled his arm back and as the ball came forward, a throw that looked like a laser turned into a lob and fell into the hands of one of the 30 6- to 11-year-olds participating in the 2009 College of the Canyons Youth Football Camp Thursday on the school’s campus.

“It’s so funny, the players say, ‘We thought you were kidding just to get us out here to do this,’ but my guys end up being more rewarded than the kids, just because they see the smiles on their faces and get the opportunity to make an impact on these young lives,” said Tujague, who is entering his third season as Cougars head coach.

Kids ran routes, tackled dummies and completed agility training drills during the first day of the two-day community outreach.

The second event will take place on Wednesday and will add 11- to 14-year olds to the mix.

This is the fifth year the school has hosted the event.

COC will also give back in ways more than just knowledge of the sport.

“We gave out 15 scholarships this year to families a little less fortunate right now in these tough economic times,” Tujague said.

Drills began at 11 a.m. and were separated by water breaks, breakout sessions led by coaches and players, lunch and a campus tour.

“Instead of these kids sitting on the couch watching cartoons and eating Doritos, they are doing something,” said Cougars wide receivers coach Altay Tascioglu, who served as a master of ceremonies throughout the day.

According to Tascioglu, 65 kids are expected on Wednesday, largely in part to the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita and First Christian Church, who not only got the word out, but identified some of the children in need of assistance.

At the end of the day, participants received a group picture, T-shirt, certificate of achievement, autographs and lasting memories.

“My favorite part was tackling because I got to tackle the dummies,” said 11-year-old aspiring quarterback Jake Hertan of Newhall.

Hoping to one day take snaps of his own, this season’s starting quarterback for the Cougars has yet to be set.

That didn’t stop JCGridiron.com from ranking the Cougars No. 8 in the country in its preseason poll.

However, Tujague isn’t claiming any victories just yet.

“That’s all great, fine and dandy, but nothing in life’s about where you start, it’s where you finish,” Tujague said.

And therein lay the ultimate goal of the day, to tell the kids that it is never too late to set goals and that they set the course for their own lives.

It was a message spread through potential role models.

“(The players) tell them a little about their path and how they got there and how to make good choices,” Tujague said.

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