Snodgrass, Sanford, Kolarevic on hand to brighten up a dreary day outdoors
YORK – The weather was miserable outside on Wednesday morning, but that didn’t dampen the smiles and excitement at York High School as 90 children progressed through their second day of York Youth Football Camp.
Three Husker football players helped make that smile even bigger.
York High graduate and Nebraska linebacker Garrett Snodgrass brought Benkelman native Phalen Sanford, a safety guard, and Traverse, Michigan native Chris Kolarevic, who plays nickel in the Nebraska secondary, to York on Wednesday.
Both the current York High School coaches and players and the three Husker players worked with the kids on offense and defense drills.
Garrett Snodgrass, a sophomore at NU, helped the York Dukes win the 2017 Class B football championship and was named York News-Times Male Athlete of the Year for 2018-2019. He said it’s a lot of fun to come back and see the kids.
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“First of all, it’s nice to see the children and to be able to be role models for them. Interacting with them is really a lot of fun. We teach them the basic skills, nothing crazy,” Snodgrass said. “Good exercise, sporty things and not just football things per se. Just build their athletics, give them something to do and just have fun doing it. The greatest thing is really just having fun. Just interacting is a lot of fun and when someone does something good, cheering and high fives.”
Phalen Sanford is living every kid’s dream, showing these kids that even a small-town football player can make those dreams come true and one day they too can wear the Husker red.
“It’s what you dream about and work on for your whole life. When you’re 8 years old, you wear the Nebraska plastic helmet and you throw the ball to yourself,” Sanford said. “It is certainly a dream come true. It’s great to show these kids from small town Nebraska and 8-man football that it’s possible.”
“Now that NIL is out we can do more things with the kids. Last summer I made it to a handful of camps, maybe five or six times, to work with kids and I plan to be at a lot more of those this summer,” Sanford added. “If I could come to a camp two or three times a month that would be great. I love working with communities and helping young kids who love the sport I love.”
During Wednesday’s camp, each of the Huskers worked with a group of kids on blocking techniques, defender skills and many other facets of the game. They also played some soccer indoors on York High’s basketball court.
Kolarevic’s journey to becoming a husker took him through Cedar Falls, Iowa and Northern Iowa University.
How did the boy from Michigan get to Nebraska?
“That’s actually a really long story, but short and sweet, I didn’t have any offers outside of high school and UNI (University of Northern Iowa) offered me very late and I felt like I had to go there. Kind of divine intervention and I learned how to be great in this game from some really good coaches and players,” Kolarevic said. “I went to UNI, played well for a couple of years, and then decided to move to Nebraska. When I entered the transfer portal, Coach Chins (Eric Chinander) called me and offered me and said he wanted me to play linebacker in Nebraska.”
Kolarevic said working with children in these camps took him back.
“It takes me back to when I was that age. I grew up at camps like this and watched the guys play from Michigan and Michigan State. I remember guys like Joey Carriage, Riley Bullough, Max Bullough, Matt Seybert and I can still name all of those guys and they were guys that I remember when I was younger and in high school,” he added Kolarevic added. “That was my inspiration why I wanted to do this. So if I can be that inspiration to a kid here and be a part of helping them achieve their dreams; that’s what it’s all about.”
All three players said that with all the transfers, this year’s Nebraska team will have many new faces.
“There are a lot of new guys and that makes it interesting where the guys that were here have to take those guys,” Kolarevic said. “If we want to be good there are transfers that have to play and it’s up to us to bring them along.”
Snodgrass and Sanford agreed that trust was never an issue.
“You always go into the season with high hopes and we’re really looking forward to this year,” said Snodgrass. “We’ve brought a lot of people into the squad and we’re looking forward to building the culture.”
“I went into every season with confidence and I think we’ve had a great team every year and we’ve just had a lot of bad luck,” Sanford said. “But this is definitely the confidence I’ve had in the four years I’ve been in Nebraska. The team seems closer than ever, we have one brotherhood and one standard we all hold by.