ADAMS TWP — Gus Aubrecht lowered his shoulder into the tackling pad and churned his legs.
When he was done, he straightened, placed his gloved hands on the top of his head and let out an exhale and a smile.
“I like hitting things,” the 12-year-old from Mars said during a break at the Mars Youth Football Camp Wednesday at the new all-purpose field across the street from the Mars Athletic Complex.
That is precisely the goal for the coaches running the camp, which is in its second year, is to teach kids how to safely play football.
It's all about introducing the sport and teaching fundamentals to the approximately 50 participants, whose ages ranged from 7 to 12.
“The goal is to get them to have some fun and instill an interest in football,” said Mars High School assistant football coach Dave Goodworth, who is one of the instructors at the camp. “Obviously, the game is something that some people are a little fearful of, so we're trying to show them it can be fun, it can be safe and it's something that's worth their time.”
The camp, which began Monday and runs through Thursday, was started last year with the goal of getting more youths involved in the sport.
It's already paid dividends.
After a dip in numbers, the league has seen a rise in participation, thanks in part to the camp.
“It's making the parents comfortable,” said Rob Wagner, president of the Mars youth football organization.
Read more about the football camp in the Eagle.