Training camps around the National Football League opened us last week to prepare players for the upcoming season that starts in September. But the professionals aren’t the only ones who are getting into game shape. So, too, are dozens of young Valley Streamers.
The Valley Stream Green Hornets football league is gearing up for its 63rd season. Leaders of the youth program have been teaching football fundamentals to children in the neighborhood as teams get ready to square off against others from Long Island on Sundays in the fall.
For the first time in its history, the Hornets held a four-day training camp last week for players to work on new tackling techniques that were passed down from USA Football that are expected to make the game safer.
Hornets President Bobby Hawkey Jr. played in the league while growing up in Valley Stream and now coaches the varsity team, which consists of 13 year olds. His father, Bob Hawkey Sr., coached the varsity team for 59 years until he died in 2009. The Hornets’ home field at Firemen’s Field is dedicated in his honor.
Hawkey Jr. said like all levels and leagues of football, the Hornets are more conscious of concussions than ever before. The new USA Football teaching method, referred to as the “Heads Up Program,” shows players a new and safer way to tackle, Hawkey Jr. said.
The league got permission from village officials to use Firemen’s Field prior to its official first practice on Aug. 1. In addition to working on the new tackling techniques, players, who did not wear pads during the camp, also did proper equipment fittings, agility drills and conditioning.
Fifth-year player Tyler Faithfull, 10, said his favorite position is cornerback and attended all four days of the voluntary training camp. Last week, Faithfull, a student at William L. Buck Elementary School, said he was working on his tackling technique and blocking.
Tyler McCray, a 13-year-old who attends Memorial Junior High School, is entering his third season with the Hornets. This year, McCray said, he would like to play quarterback on the varsity team. He added that it was nice to have a chance to workout prior to the start of the season.