PEABODY — The football field at Bishop Fenwick was filled with youngsters this past weekend, eager to learn the basic skills of the game.
Of course, they were also thrilled to get the opportunity to meet the New England Patriots' superstar wide receiver, Wes Welker.
More than 400 boys and a few girls ages 7-to-14 came to Fenwick to take part in the Wes Welker Football Clinic, run by Pro Camps.
Welker said he enjoyed working with youngsters, and making sure they were having fun was the top priority.
"This is a beautiful day for the camp, and it's fun to see the kids out here playing, enjoying themselves and learning," said Welker. "The enthusiasm is great to see."
For three-and-a-half hours on Saturday and Sunday, the kids in attendance worked in small groups with members of the Pro Camps staff doing drills and learning skills. At the end of each short segment, campers ran from one station to another. Everything was done with military-style precision, probably because camp director Rod Huber (head coach at the College of Mount St. Joseph) drove a tank in his four-year Army stint before spending the next 30 years as a football coach in Ohio.
This was not a question of having a famous name simply attached to a camp, but rather Welker taking a very active part in the coaching.
"Anytime you have 400 kids playing football on the field at Fenwick, it's awesome," said Crusaders head football coach and athletic director Dave Woods. "The guys from Pro Camps have been here since Thursday getting everything set up, and when it ends they'll spend all afternoon cleaning up. Come Monday morning we won't even know they were here."
Former Fenwick players Ryan Lipka and Chris Renzuli lent a hand coaching stations along with former Crusader head coach Al Costabile.