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For Immediate Release

HometownLife-June 21, 2016

Novi Fantast Football Camp Proves Elite

By Brad Emons, hometownlife

NNOS 3 NoviFbCamp

Varsity players Ryan Welch (far left) and Alec Bageris (far right) spend time with J.T. Lozon and his mother Chris Lozon night at Novi Wildcats Fantast Football Camp. (Photo: Brad Emons)

Imagine that.

A summer football camp with Jim Harbaugh missing in action?

Those who attended Monday night’s Novi Wildcats Fantasy Football Camp weren’t there to showcase their elite skills to college recruiters. There were no 40-yard dash times and the campers got in for free, while also receiving a T-shirt, refreshments, snacks and a certificate for participation.

In conjuction with Easter Seals, Novi football players and staff interacted with those with special needs, many of whom particpate in sports with the Miracle League of Michigan.

“We’re trying to teach our young men here to have character and start giving back to the world a little bit,” Novi coach Jeff Burnside said. “The game of football is a lot of fun and every kid should enjoy that. And to give the Easter Seals kids a chance is really a good thing. And there’s no better way than doing it with young people that don’t get the opportunity to play football.”

Many of the campers are challenged without a sound mind or sound body, but Burnside simulated the camp like a real practice, giving them the chance to particpate in cone and bag drills that are used to increase agility. The campers also learned the basics of blocking, tackling, throwing and catching.

“It’s really great for us to give back because it really shows us how truly lucky we are to have the ability to play this game and like how unfortunate these kids are,” Novi defensive back Ryan Welch said. “It’s also awesome to teach them this game.”

Campers also got a chance to do a little end zone touchdown celebrating as well.

“We have a little bit of fun at the end, teach them touchdown dances,” Welch said.

And the lead TD dance demonstator on the Novi football team?

“That’s our boy Anthony D’Annibale,” Welch said.

It was only a week earlier that some of the Novi players got to partner up volunteering with the special needs players at a Miracle League softball game in Southfield.

Leading the way out of the tunnel at the Novi Wildcats

Leading the way out of the tunnel at the Novi Wildcats Football Fantasy Camp on Monday night are Robby Heil (24) and Robert Warsinski (helmet). (Photo: DAWN CARSON)

“They do a great job over there and our kids tonight kind of buddied up with one player, kind of helped them swing the ball and throw the ball, some of the same things we did tonight,” Burnside said. “Kind of helped them throw the football, catch the ball and tackle, and all that good stuff.
“It was a really good experience. The kids that were able to go last week really had a lot of good memories and really impacted them pretty well. And tonight I think they really did a good job.”
Blake Johnson, 23, of Detroit, was one of the campers who thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“It’s always nice for our young athletes to get out and be able to have a good time and be able to enjoy the camaraderie of a team, running drills,” said Latonya Morgan, Blake’s mother. “The leagues that they play in are not advanced because of the physicality, so they enjoy it. He was one of the first participants when they started the (Miracle) league. And he I think his team won the first World Series after they implemented that. He’s in a competive league in Southfield.
Head football coach Jeff Burnside (left) gets knocked
Head football coach Jeff Burnside (left) gets knocked by Novi Football Fantasy Camp participant Michael Carson during a blocking drill. (Photo: DAWN CARSON)

“He loves football. He played in flag league for about three years and he was able to actualize some of the sports involvement that he wanted to have.”
Meanwhile, 10-year-old Robert Warsinski, who attends Sheiko Elementary School in West Bloomfield, couldn’t get enough of the camp, even after two hours on a hot night.
“He doesn’t want to go home, so he’s totally enjoyed it,” said Lynne Warsinski, Robert's mother. “He likes football, he likes baseball, he likes soccer, he likes basketball.”
Meanwhile, the Wildcats may have gained legion of followers before the night was over.
“I’m not sure if we’re looking for fans, just trying to spread the good will of football,” Burnside said. “We hear about all the satellite camps, elite camp this and elite camp that, but I think tonight was a pretty elite camp. It was a lot of fun tonight, probably the best camp in the area or the state tonight.”
Imagine that. And Jim Harbaugh nowhere to be found.
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