New Mexico Lobos' Football Youth Experience – Saturday Branch Field
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
They ran, jumped, hooted and hollered, rolled around on the Branch Field and seemed to be having the time of their lives.
And that was just the University of New Mexico Lobos.
The kids were having fun, too.
“Our guys are just big kids themselves, but our guys always seem to come out here and have fun,” said Lobo assistant coach Apollo Wright. “This is great. The kids get to come out here and be around the Lobos and the guys get to be around the kids.
“I’m not sure who is having the most fun.”
Yeah, it’s a two-way street of giving. Coach Bob Davie’s third annual Youth Experience fills University Stadium with a whole lot of laughter and sharing revolving around some simple football drills.
“We love this as much as the kids do,” said Lobo David Guthrie, a second-year defensive back. “It gives us a chance to come out and act like kids again and just have fun. It’s a great opportunity for us.”
Said DB Devonta Tabannah: “It’s my third time doing the Youth Experience and it’s just a fun thing for everyone. We get to come out here and enjoy the kids and you can see how much fun they are having.
“A lot of these kids don’t get this kind of opportunity or maybe have never been in this stadium before. It’s a blessing to see the smiles on these faces.”
There might not have been a face on Branch Field Saturday that wasn’t flashing a smile at some point. There were about 250 kids that showed up for Bob Davie’s Youth Experience. Kids were smiling. Lobos were smiling. Parents were smiling.
“I don’t think anybody out here smiles more than our players,” said Davie.
The Youth Experience on Saturday followed a Lobo spring practice session. The campers were divided into groups based on age and then circled around Branch Field going from station to station. Possibly the most animated group of Lobos on this warm, spring day was the Lobo defensive backs – or the running backs or the offensive linemen or the defensive linemen. The enthusiasm was infectious.
“This is all about getting the youth involved in Lobo football and giving back to the community that we ask to support us,” said assistant coach Charles McMillian, who is in charge of the UNM secondary. “Of course, we want these kids to grow up and be Lobos or Lobo fans, but it’s just a fun thing at this stage.
“These kids are out here having fun and football should be fun. If you aren’t having fun playing football, you probably should be doing something else. We want these kids to come out and enjoy this experience, but we also want them to know that football is hard work, too. They need to know that.”
At some point, football is hard work. But Saturday on Branch Field it was mostly fun work.
“You can’t help but enjoy this,” said Guthrie. “My major is to be a children’s social worker and I have a passion to work with kids. Look at these kids running and jumping around at full speed. It’s exciting for us to be able to share this with them.”