A satisfied, exhaustive smile.
It was 11:45 a.m. on Thursday morning — right as the sun-splashed temperatures started to peak — and Brill, Lumberton High School’s head football coach, had just capped off day two of his three-day LFA Mike Brill Football Clinic for kids ages 6-12 at LHS.
Milling around Brill, campers mowed through hamburgers and fries donated by McDonalds for the clinic’s lunch. Wednesday was Sonic. Today’s Outback.
No Mickey Dees for Brill, not yet anyway. His day — his week — is far from over.
Not that he’s complaining.
“It’s been a busy week,” said Brill, who still had his own practices with the high schoolers yet to orchestrate, along with preparing for Saturday morning’s Vonta Leach Youth Football and Cheer Camp, which is expecting over 600 participants. “I’m tickled to death. We’re keeping the kids happy and we’re doing something good for the community and that’s the whole thing – trying to give back a little bit.
“And I enjoy watching the little rascals run around anyways. That’s a lot of fun.”
Despite the penny-pinched times, Brill has seen 101 kids flood onto the Lumberton High practice fields for his eighth annual football clinic. Since his annual camp, which had roughly 140 attendees, the numbers took a dip before starting to climb in recent years.
Aiding this year’s increased attendance were scholarship donations from sponsors such as the City of Lumberton, Southeastern Regional Rehabilitation Center and Dial Insurance Inc., to name a few, and a host of others.
Former Robeson County standouts and current NFL players Vonta Leach (Baltimore Ravens) and Sean Locklear (New York Giants), who graduated from South Robeson and Lumberton, respectively, also made substantial donations.
Leach and Locklear signed autographs for the kids at the end of today’s final camp session.
“People have been real good to me each year and it’s a lot of the same people — it’s been nice,” Brill said.
Additionally, “It’s probably the smoothest running camp we’ve ever had. That kids have been real good,” he said. “We haven’t had any kids this year complain or want to go home, sometimes you get that. The coaches have said its actually been the best group they’ve had the whole time.”
At one clinic station, tackling sleds were mushed into with gusto, while at another, footballs were properly gripped and tossed to hands making triangle targets.
These aren’t pedestrian drills custom-made for kids.
“We do exactly the same things that my kids do here (at LHS),” Brill said. “And you wouldn’t believe how well they do, especially in the beginning of practices when we do all of our agility things. We start them young and by the time they get to me, their acclimated and know what to do … .”
Brill, who is planning to retire as the LHS football coach after the 2012-13 season, stopped himself. His words got snagged on a realization.
“I won’t see this group, I’ll be gone,” he said. “But … I’ll be out here watching them.”
Reach Sports editor Kaleb Roedel at 910-272-6111 or firstname.lastname@example.org