Panhandle Football Camp great success
     2012-07-05      By Elizabeth Gross    elizabethgross@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Elizabeth Gross/ Gering Citizen Campers listen as coaches give instructions for the agility course. Last weekend was the fourth annual Panhandle Football Camp. The annual camp raises money to help support area football programs. 
Last weekend, 126 boys from across the valley gathered at Bearcat Stadium for the chance to develop their skills with the guidance of former Husker football players. The camp was created by Scottsbluff resident, Ralph Paez who remembers the influence the sport of football had on him as a young man. “I love football, I live and breathe football,” said Paez.

Paez’s inspiration for the camp came after meeting former Husker football player Tommie Frazier. The two hit it off immediately and Frazier opened the doors for Paez to network with other players. “ I wanted to bring a good camp to the community, with the former Huskers but in doing that I also wanted to give back to that part of the school system because that helped me get to where I am,” he said.

The Panhandle Football camp goes beyond helping its campers learn the fundamentals of football. With school systems making budget cuts, Paez hopes that money raised can help programs received that extra money. There is no reserve fund for the camp, everything begins at zero. “This camp for me is not about money, I give it away.” said Paez. That is why no child is turned away from the camp because of financial reasons. “I don’t want kids to not come to my camp because of a financial reason,” said Paez, “If a parent can’t afford the fee they can call me, we can work it out.”

This year’s camp raised $4,000.Paez credits his sponsors for making the annual camp a possibility. “I couldn’t do this without my sponsors” said Paez. Runza of Scottsbluff donated the meals, Scottsbluff Screen-printing helped with T-shirts and the Comfort Inn provided rooms for the coaches at no cost. “If people really enjoy and appreciate the camp please thank and support our sponsors,” said Paez.

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