The GOAT camp, which honors the late Aaron Alford, continues to be more about life values than football
It started out as a way to honor a family member and friend. It’s now grown into an experience aimed at helping the youth of Park City toward a brighter future.
The GOAT Camp was a three-day event hosted by Park City High School’s football team, where kids between the 2nd and 8th grade in Park City came and trained with the football program. The camp, which began on Monday and ended Wednesday of last week, was open to kids of all athletic ability and knowledge of the game, disregarding the fact of whether they wanted to pursue football later on in life.
The camp was more than football; it was about life lessons, according to Park City football coach Josh Montzingo.
“This is all about community; giving the kids an opportunity to engage in football while being active with friends,” Montzingo said. “But what we do is way more than football; we talk about life. … We talk about being mentally tough, not just physically tough. We teach them how to respond to life in a positive way and stretch that over to a life of well-being.”
The values the coaches preached at the camp are intended to reflect the man who started the event, the late former University of Utah football coach Aaron Alford.
“Aaron is simply one of the most amazing men I’ve ever met, one of my closest friends in life,” Nate Washington, a family friend, said. “One thing I want people to know is that the camp is not just about football, it’s about something greater. It’s about the kids learning things that will give them a great base for when they go to high school.”
Alford, who died of a heart attack in 2013, was about to begin his career in Park City as the high school’s athletic director and as assistant football coach for the Miners. Unfortunately, he never got that chance. But the camp carries on his legacy.
Alford, who died of a heart attack in 2013, was about to begin his career in Park City as the high school’s athletic director and as assistant football coach for the Miners. Unfortunately, he never got that chance — so to help cope with the loss, his family began the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) Camp in 2014.
“It was first an idea that came from his wife and brother (Tony, assistant coach at Ohio State). … They got it going along with the help of other college coaches,” Montzingo said. “Because of the new NCAA rules, the coaches had to stop doing it, so we took over. … And now it’s turned into this big event where our players and staff come out and participate in for Aaron and our community.”
The camp, which ended on Wednesday, had nearly 90 participants per day. The days consisted of two separate 90-minute workouts, each featuring a session on offense and defense. Within those sessions, there were six stations that focused on both sides of the ball.
Montzingo’s varsity team was active in helping with the camp, having nearly 25 players per day participate. While some players ran each station, others were elected camp team captains and helped lead their respective groups of kids throughout the drills.
The camp has had seen success through the years. One year, Tony Alford was able to procure Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot to come and speak at the camp. This year, the campers departed after a closing speech from Salt Lake City native Haloti Ngata, a former NFL defensive tackle who was selected for the Pro Bowl five times over his 12 years in the league and, before that, was selected as an NCAA All American lineman at Oregon..
“Ngata, who just moved to town, was so gracious and couldn’t have been nicer, truly living up to his moniker in the NFL as the ‘nicest man in the league’,” Montzingo said. “He didn’t have to, but he stayed around afterwards and took photos, signed autographs and just talked with people.”
With the success of the camp this year Montzingo and Washington both hope to see its continued growth, furthering Aaron Alford’s message in life.
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