G.O.A.T. Camp aims to build greatest people of all time
Annual camp, in memory of Aaron Alford, focuses on life
June 27, 2017
At the end of the Aaron Alford Memorial G.O.A.T. Football Camp's first day on Monday, 200-plus campers flocked to the end zone to gather around Park City High School head football coach Josh Montzingo.
Montzingo, bouncing all over the field with energy and camp pride, settled down for a moment to get serious with the camp participants — decked out in Aaron Alford G.O.A.T. Camp T-shirts — surrounding him.
He talked about the late Aaron Alford, who started the camp at Park City High School in 2013.
Alford, a former University of Utah assistant football coach, unexpectedly passed away later in the summer of 2013. Montzingo said Alford's spirit, though, lives on through the G.O.A.T. Camp.
"We're carrying on tradition that was started here by the Ute Conference, in honor of Aaron Alford," Montzingo said. "He lost his life too early, too young. He was a great gentleman. … [This camp is] in memory of him and honor of him. He loved giving back to the youth."
The camp, now in its fifth year, was carried on after Alford's death by his brother, Tony, who is an assistant football coach at Ohio State University. Due to some changes regarding Division-1 student-athletes and coaches, Tony was unable to make it to the G.O.A.T. Camp this year, but Montzingo and company were more than happy to shoulder the load.
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The camp was reserved for youth athletes ages 8-14. From Monday to Wednesday, the campers flooded Dozier Field from 9 a.m. to noon to participate in a handful of football specific drills, such as working off of the line, running routes, and throwing and catching the football.
When Aaron first started the camp in 2013, roughly 40 children showed up. Four years later, the camp had grown to more than 200 participants.
"It speaks to Aaron's legacy," Montzingo said. "He spakred a fire in this community. He started it and it was carried on in his memory. To be honest with you, we're just trying to keep the flame burning as long as we can."
In the past, Tony would come to Park City to run the camp in his brother's memory, sometimes bringing with him current and former athletes or coaches. Last year, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott attended as a counselor, as well as former Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George.
Because Tony wasn't able to attend this year, the star-studded cast of counselors was also absent. But that didn't stop the camp from thriving this last week.
Montzingo received help from his personal staff, including freshmen coaches Thomas Baynes and Jason Miller. Additionally, he had about 20 players from the high school team taking time from their summer vacation to lead the groups, as well as participate in some of the drills.
Also helping on the coaching side of things was Mike Giddings, who has been a professional football scout for Pro Scout Inc. since the 1980s. Giddings recently moved to Park City, and once he heard about the G.O.A.T Camp, he couldn't sit aside.
"It's just the best," Giddings said of helping out at the camp. "I think [football is] a great game and I think it helps everything, from character to understanding. I was using math because we were teaching the lineman a 45-degree-angle stop. It's not just chasing the ball. You've got to be thinking and working together. To see the smiles on the kids having fun is just great."
And what kind of camp would it be if there wasn't a little bit of competition?
At the end of each day, participants went head-to-head in a number of competitions, such as relay races, a tug-o-war and 40-yard dash sprints. It's all a part of the high school team's motto — effort, toughness, competition — to reward the campers for remaining focused and tough throughout the long day.
In the end, the message Alford hoped to relay with the camp was accomplished this year: be the best you can be at anything you do. After all, the G.O.A.T. acronym stands for "greatest of all time," and Montzingo hopes the message was received loud and clear by the campers these last few days.
"We're always telling our guys that football is a secondary nature thing," Montzingo said. "It is the end means, but it is not all means. What we're trying to do is create the best person we can create. We want to build them up, give them tools to succeed in the classroom, in the community itself, at home, wherever they’re at."
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