Skip to main content

The City Journals

Cottonwood football players prepare for upcoming season with rigorous summer camp

Jul 29, 2021 11:10AM ● By Brian Shaw

Colts players attend football camp daily from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. for one week in July.

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]

In July, most kids were probably off camping somewhere in the High Uinta Mountains or fishing one of Utah’s many lakes and trout streams. But not the football players at Cottonwood High. 

Colts football players were busy preparing for what they hope will be a breakthrough season in this the third that Casey Miller has been head coach. And since Miller has taken the reins of the Cottonwood program, he’s started a tradition. 

“We’ve been doing this every year that I’ve been the head coach here,” said Miller of his summer camp that ran from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. for five days this July. 

This year, the camp fell from July 12-16 at Cottonwood High School, added the head coach, who going into year three of what he expected would be a long rebuild, is beginning to notice some differences in the team coming off of its best season in almost a decade. First off, more kids are out for the football team this year than in years past. 

“We are at about 60 total kids [in grades 9-12] which is better than we have been,” Miller said. “Have more ninth graders than we thought we would.” 

However, in having so many new players to the team, the head coach also found out something else that was rather interesting. 

“A lot never played little league,” Miller said. “So we will have a lot of work to get them up to speed.” 

This increased turnout according to Miller is a good sign that the Colts are on their way back into being a competitive team that will fight even harder on the gridiron than they did last year. 

The work the Colts put in at the camp, Miller added, will go a long way toward getting the team ready. These five days in mid-July were meticulously planned out for the 60-plus kids. 

For example, from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., the team practiced in the cool breezes of Cottonwood’s stadium, then showered, changed and ate breakfast. After downing a smorgasbord of food designed to fuel and build up their bodies, the team broke off into groups of 20 and sauntered into three classrooms where they sat in three meetings taking instruction from Colts coaches and special invited guests every 40 minutes.  

After the meetings came a two-hour team-building activity in the afternoon that was unique to the day on which it was held, giving teammates new and old the opportunity to bond and find commonalities participating in five physically and mentally challenging team tasks. That’s important at a school that is open-enrollment and welcomes students from one end of the Salt Lake valley to the other, thanks to renowned accelerated programs in the STEM sciences, as well as theatre arts. 

Following the team-building activities came a mid-afternoon lunch, at which each of the football team captains was assigned to eat with several of their new teammates, added Miller. Then the team broke off into small groups and attended meetings for two more hours. 

After the meetings was another two-hour practice for the Colts from 5:30-7:30 p.m. before they showered, changed and ate dinner together before calling it a day at 9 p.m.—a ritual that they would perform for five straight days, mirroring something that most football players see at another level. But this is something that in most cases, Cottonwood’s players will not do due to their financial circumstances, said the head coach. 

“We try to provide them everything that other schools get when they travel to Snow College, or SUU, or some other camp,” Miller said. “Just a lot cheaper since we have kids who can't afford to pay or fundraise enough to pay for those overnight [college] camps.” 

One week after the Colts head coach gave the boys a week off to recover from the rigors of this boot camp, the Cottonwood football team was back at it on July 26 preparing for the season opener versus Summit Academy on Friday, Aug. 13.