Maddogs conditioning camp gives kids a leg up on season

The Martensville Maddogs pee wee and bantam teams are part of the Saskatoon Minor Football spring program and Kinsmen Football League fall tackle programs

Members of the Martensville Maddogs bantam football team should be ready to tackle the new season in the spring, thanks to a twice-weekly conditioning camp this winter.
Players on the Maddogs bantam team, as well as a few from the pee wee program, are staying fit and practising skills on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. The winter conditioning camp, which begins in early January and ends in mid-March, helps the kids stay in shape and builds team solidarity, according to Maddogs Bantam head coach Grant Currie.
“It’s been running for at least two years,” said Currie in an interview on Thursday, February 8. “It’s basically for conditioning, skill development and team-building. It’s nice to get the kids together in the off-season so they can hang out and do things together and build that sense of family that we try and encourage in the Maddogs minor football program.”
Currie said the hour-long Thursday evening sessions at a privately-owned cross-fit facility in Martensville focus solely on physical conditioning.
The Sunday afternoon sessions at Venture Heights School are aimed at skill development.
“The kids learn how to catch a pass, how to throw a pass, how to back-pedal as a defensive back, how to go through the steps a defensive lineman does.
“It’s all stuff that doesn’t require equipment, and is based strictly on skills,” Currie added. “The goal is to give the kids confidence so that when they do strap on the pads, this stuff will come automatically. It’s ‘muscle memory’; something that happens in every sport, but it’s especially important in football.”
Currie said the conditioning camp is particularly helpful for players who don’t participate in more than one sport.
“Kids who are into hockey or another sport in the winter generally come into spring football in better shape,” he said. “This is a way of encouraging the rest to stay active in the off-season.
The pee wee and bantam Maddogs teams are part of the spring six-a-side tackle football league organized by Saskatoon Minor Football, which begins in April. Younger players in the Maddogs program participate in the SMF flag football league.
The Maddogs are also part of the Kinsmen Football League (KFL) 9-man (pee wee) and 12-man (bantam)tackle football league in the fall.
Currie noted that concussion incidents in the KFL last season were down from the previous year. He attributed that to a strong emphasis among coaches on “safe contact” and proper tackling techniques.
“Football Canada mandates that all coaches be accredited in safe contact,” said Currie. “We want parents to know that we are doing all we can to ensure kids are safe.”
Currie said enrollment in the Maddogs football program is growing. He noted that girls are increasingly interested in participating in the sport.
The Maddogs program provides a great feeder system for the high school football program, noted Currie.
Kody Gutek, a Martensville Royals alumni player and a member of the U16 Canadian team which competed in Texas last fall, was a guest speaker at a recent Maddogs conditioning camp session. Gutek spoke of his experience at that event.
“He did a great job, and the kids really loved it,” said Currie. “He’s a great role model for the younger players.”