As summer begins to close and school starting in a matter of weeks, Van Buren’s student athletes have been among the contributors to not only help foster the next group of student-athletes, but building relationships with the youth in the area.
The field house have been set up to rotate in the athletes starting at 6:30 a.m. for their own workouts, but has provided opportunities for those athletes to work with the kids, who have arrived for the camps.
"The number one thing serving as mentors and developing relationships is that I hope it creates an accountability factor and provides (the student-athletes) with the means to invest in the sort of things that are benefiting to a good leader," said football coach Brooks Coatney. "Inspiration can go both ways. These young kids will come here, see the older players working hard, and it makes them want to work harder.
"At the same time, the older kids may see a younger kid working hard and it inspires him to put in extra effort."
Lady Pointer softball players also worked with a group of girls this summer and has been part of the program for the past eight years.
"We don’t have a junior high softball program or even a program (within the school district) for younger players, so I very often won’t seen some of these girls until they get into the ninth grade," said softball coach Andy Williams. "This is how I get to know some of these girls. It has already come full circle as some of the girls in the high school program were in a softball camp here when they were nine years old."
Williams, who sets up the camp and organizes it with Ashley Carter, lets the current players conduct the camp.
"This forces the student athletes to know and think about what they’re teaching. It’s the same fundamentals that we’ve been teaching them," Williams said. "The kids would much rather learn from a 15 year old than some 50 year-old guy. The student-athletes can relate better to the kids and they will probably learn more from them."
Chris Bryant, who is the new head coach for the Lady Pointers basketball team, says that the camps help serve part of cycle that he hopes will continue to grow.
"The young girls will see the hard work and determination of the players and hopefully that will be something that they will value as well," said Bryant. "So, when those girls get older and help us out in our camps, hopefully they’ll retain those values and it becomes an inspiration for the next group of girls that will benefit the program and the athletes."
Bryant echoes that the teaching by the student-athletes helps reinforce the techniques what the coaches have stressed during practices.
"When they teach those techniques to the younger players, it helps improve their own," Bryant said. "Teaching gives the student-athletes ownership in the program and the desire to leave the program better than they found it."
Wrestling coach Adam Pendergrass echoed the same sentiment as well.
"My deal is that if you can teach it, then you understand the material," said Pendergrass. "It makes [the student-athletes] responsible and it helps them become a leader. It does give us a chance to build relationships."
In the two weeks (a beginner camp and an advance camp), Pendergrass had 83 kids participate.
"The numbers are growing. We’re a young program here in Arkansas and it helps to have these student-athletes out there to help this program grow."
The Van Buren Pointer Baseball team is sponsoring a rent-a-player fund raiser for the squad.
Players will perform odd jobs for a reasonable donation to the team. Jobs could be cleaning up storm damage, mowing, weeding, painting, power washing, cleaning cars, etc. within a 30 mile radius of Ft.Smith/Van Buren. Money will be used to pay for expenses for team to play at ESPN complex in Orlando next spring break. Contact Debbie Hoffman, 651-3389 to schedule a player to work.