Spring is in the air, but football took center stage on a clear, warm day at scenic Jones Stadium at El Paso High School at the Dallas Cowboys High School Football Clinic. About 300 high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors from the high schools within the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) made up the campers receiving instruction from former NFL players.
“We’re trying to introduce kids to different aspects of the game doing everything from throwing to footwork and so on,” said Dallas Cowboys camps director and former NFL cornerback Terrence Wheatley, “We’re giving as much instruction as we can but we want these kids to have fun and enjoy it.”
With three different sessions throughout the day, the players got a chance to receive instruction in agility, receiving and throwing. For the students, it was some time away from the classroom and a learning experience at the same time.
“It was a really fun experience,” said Coronado junior offensive lineman Marcos Castro, “It was something to take to heart and it was fun to come out here and get loose for a little bit.”
“It was fun but it was pretty intense at first,” said Jefferson junior quarterback Luis Alvarez, “They test your skills and I really feel like I got better and I have something to take away from to work on for the season.”
The clinic also marked one of the first times that the Cowboys were able to put on this event in the Sun City thanks in part from sponsorship from the Texas Lottery, according to senior director of corporate partnership services Jennifer Surgalski. It also paved a pathway to bring something that El Paso didn’t have in the past.
“The Cowboys enjoy a lot of support from El Paso, which we tremendously appreciate,” Surgalski said, “It’s the first time that I’m aware of that we’ve come to El Paso to do something like this thanks to partnering with the Texas Lottery and EPISD. We’re just really appreciative of the opportunity.”
“For us to give back to the community to the part of the state that we typically don’t venture in is important,” Wheatley said. “We have a lot of Cowboys fans out in El Paso and it’s good to see that footprint is big and broad here.”
Most of the local coaches from EPISD were in attendance as well and with high school spring football just around the corner for 6A and 5A schools, it marked one of the first times that teams had done anything organized together and represent their school.
“I told our kids that this was our first opportunity for them to be together,” said new Austin head coach Eric Pichardo, “It’s a unique opportunity and a privilege to be on the same field with NFL players.”
After the drills were done, it was time for a little competition as the instructors held a split-squad modified 7-on-7 scrimmage (although there were far more that that). After a final word from Wheatley, the students were back off to school but not before taking away a memory that will stay with them for life.
“We want them to experience how fun it is, because football is supposed to be fun,” Pichardo said on what he hopes his team will take away. “I want them to go back home knowing that they went through something they might not go through again.”
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