Be it a Kansas City Royals baseball game or driving go-karts, Versailles coach Broc Silvers looks for a fun activity his team can bond over depending where team camp is and picking up a few pointers from the pros was this year's activity.
A good way for any football team to embark on a new season is by watching players who get paid to play the game.
That is what Versailles had the privilege of doing this past offseason as the Kansas City Chiefs were conducting their training camp on the campus of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, just 31 miles away from where the Tigers were going through their team camp at West Platte High School in Weston, Mo. Be it a Kansas City Royals baseball game or driving go-karts, Versailles coach Broc Silvers looks for a fun activity his team can bond over depending where team camp is and picking up a few pointers from the pros was this year’s activity.
“Every year we’ve been picking up a different place to go. It is kind of neat because we don’t really know anybody, get to know some more coaches and get to experience different cities,” Silvers said. “We used to go to Branson and we went go-karting, mini golfing or laser tag and it was awesome for our guys.
“We looked up the Chiefs because we just happened to go to a late enough camp that they had already started practicing. I’ve been to one practice as a fan before to the (St. Louis) Rams, but never a Chiefs one.”
Some Versailles players got autographs and the team got to be right by the wall next to the field to see everything up close. Turns out several of the players may have never seen professionals go at it on the gridiron, let alone the Chiefs, and Silvers noted that the sheer size and speed of the athletes on the field were quite the spectacle.
“I was a little disappointed in the day we picked and it is not like they (Chiefs) are scheduling their practice off of you, but they did not do any individual stuff. It was all team sessions,” the coach said with a smile. “What I would have really liked is if they could have watched them work and do their individual stuff. Then, they (Versailles players) would be like, ‘Oh yeah, I do that drill,’ or ‘That is what it looks like,’ but it was still awesome for our kids.”
It seems the professionals may have made an impression on the young Tigers.
“It was really cool to see how high-intensity stuff was compared to us and how fast and strong all of them were,” Versailles junior Kyjuan Buckingham said. “How fast their drills were- none of them were walking around.
“Watching their defensive line drills, they did this drill with their arms coming off people’s arms and we did that the next week at practice as soon as we saw it and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
The atmosphere around training camp did not go unnoticed either.
“They got to see the passion of the Chiefs fan base and that place was packed. It was almost sold out when they were there,” Silvers recalled.
“Just the atmosphere for the game of football I think was cool for our kids to be able to see because Versailles does not have a huge tradition like maybe a Camdenton has where it is packed every night and people come out all the time.”
While the experience may have been educational, the Tigers also did not forget to have a little fun either. From the bus ride up, to staying and swimming at the hotel and all the team meals between, the opportunity to bond can go along way in a sport that is so team-oriented.
“Our kids got a lot better, we came back healthy and we got to bond a little bit so all that is a positive,” Silvers stated.
“At Michigan, (Coach) Jim Harbaugh took his guys to London and Rome. I’m never going to be able to do that and I’d love to, but it is always cool to get to see some different things and hopefully the kids will remember that. I know my old guys come back and talk about when they were go-karting… They still talk about that as older adults at 21 or 22.”
Buckingham, for one, is certainly open to anything that allows the team to bond.
“I think it is pretty important because every day you have to go to work and put your work boots on, but every now and then it is nice to take a day off and have fun with the boys,” the junior said. “With the freshmen coming up, you bond with the older guys.”
Whatever that next experience will be, it is a good way to start a season and create memories that can last well beyond the final time each Tiger walks off the gridiron and hangs up the cleats.