Instead of avoiding hard-charging pass-rushers during the football season, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith found himself working through a different challenge.
Almost 250 kids in grades 1-8 swarmed around Smith at Shawnee Mission West High School last weekend while he tried to instill some football knowledge in his first annual HyVee Alex Smith Football ProCamp.
Some of the boys just did some basic drills, running up and down the field. Others were lucky enough to be tossed a touchdown pass from Smith.
For Smith it was more about giving back to the local area that he now belongs to as the Chiefs' starting quarterback for his second season here.
“Being new to the area, it was important to be part of the community, and this is a part of it, coming out and having a camp,” he said.
What else Smith enjoyed was watching kids discover the joy of football, something seen in younger people before finding the pressure of a higher level of the game.
“It’s so pure at this level," Smith said. "It’s all about having fun and competing.”
Along with Smith, 20 area prep and college football coaches ran youth players through drills in the two-day event.
At the same time, an Army challenge competition was going on with some of the local high school football players. When Smith was not helping out the younger younger players, he gave some pointers to those players as well.
Smith also said he remembered similar youth camps while growing up in California, and now he’s happy to schedule a weekend in Kansas City.
“It takes you back,” he said. “I think we all have that little kid in us. I would pretend I was a certain pro player.”
Another skill Smith wanted to introduce was the game of football at its fundamental level. Some of the time for the youngsters was just running the right routes or catching passes correctly.
Some also depended on what age group he was working with during the camp. With ages 7 to 13 on hand, he made some adjustment to each age group.
“It’s challenging. We’ve got a big age group here,” Smith said. “The older kids you can get a little more detailed and a do a little more,” he said.
But with all of the ages, Smith wanted to make sure the players had a good time with the sport he has turned into his profession.
“You just want them to have a good time and enjoy it,” he said.
The camp was directed by ProCamps, which was partially led by Adam Ross, one of the main organizers of the event.
“We’ve worked with a lot of guys who knew Alex, and they told him good things about the camp, and he’s having a great time,” Ross said.
ProCamps directs such youth camps all over the country, including for quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees.
Although the company is doing its first camp in the Kansas City area, Ross indicated it felt Smith would be a good fit.
“He’s fully engaged with the coaches and having a good time,” Ross said. “He’s having a good time flipping it around and being one of the coaches.”
For Smith, switching to being a coach for a weekend was one of his favorite parts. “It’s a different wearing a different hat, “ he said.
Still, he said it would be awhile before he thinks about coaching full time.
“I kind of come from a coaches family, but I haven’t made any decision like that yet,” he said.
However, he indicated that he enjoyed the time watching hundreds of kids gain a love for the game.
“I want them to enjoy football and have a positive experience,” he said. “I want them to continue to play and learn something and get something out of it.”