PIQUA — With all of the uncertainty still surrounding the 2020 football season, Piqua coach Bill Nees was certain of one thing.
The future looks bright for Indians football.
The Piqua football team hosted its annual Piqua Youth Football camp Wednesday night at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field, with this year’s entire varsity team joining players and coaches from every level of Piqua football to help teach more than 100 future Indians between kindergarten and sixth grade the fundamentals and prepare them for when they will represent Piqua football.
And Nees, who will be entering his 28th season as Piqua’s coach and has won 200 career games, has personally seen those young campers turn into Indians stars time and time again.
“We did a survey today, and 98 percent of our team had been to our camps,” he said. “And the interesting thing is, if you ask the campers, there’s probably a good percentage who had dads that played and/or are being coached by a former player.
“There’s a lot of Piqua football out here.”
And, thanks to the Indians’ youth program, there was a lot of Piqua’s future present, too.
“We did this in conjunction with our youth program, Piqua Youth Football, so we were able to have a lot of the youth coaches out here with us. And then a lot of the kids are able to play in their team’s group,” Nees said. “It’s got a heavy ex-Piqua football player presence in it. Scott Foster runs it, and a lot of the coaches played for us in the past. Now they’re out here working, and it’s great to see that.
“We’ve got a really good turnout with 131 kids. This is massive.”
The attendance was especially impressive given the fast turnaround — between the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the questions as to whether contact sports will be allowed to play this year, the camp’s fate was up in the air until a mere two weeks prior.
“The thing is, we just got the okay to do this,” Nees said. “We were able to put this together fast. We couldn’t have done it without the help of our youth football guys.
“It was about two weeks (we got the go-ahead). They wanted everybody to hold off a little bit and see what was going on with some different fundraisers and things like that. We took our time, went through the steps we were supposed to, and once we got the green light we didn’t know if we could get this rolling, but it all worked out. It’s pretty cool.”
In fact, Nees said the Indians plan to keep this year’s set up in the future.
“We usually do it at the beginning of summer, and now, the way this has happened here, I think we’re going to employ it next year, at the end like we’re doing it now,” he said. “This is kind of within everybody’s season right now, rather than in the middle of the year when people have vacations and maybe some conflicts with baseball and basketball, things like that. So I think this is a better time to do it. This was kind of a blessing.
“It’s great that we’re able to get out here and do this stuff. Piqua has had a great tradition of community support in all of our programs, and football is no exception.”
And in the end, this year’s Indians — themselves mostly former campers — welcomed the chance to teach the future of the team.
“The whole team is here, and they all love doing it,” Nees said. “Being able to put this all together, get all the varsity players and coaches here, junior players and their coaches, it’s a great opportunity to have this many kids out here excited about playing football.”