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Pope: REPS football camp returns to the region

Chesterthead football coach John Snyder during first quarter against Lake Central ChestertHigh School ChestertInd. Friday September 30 2011. | Guy

Chesterton head football coach John Snyder during the first quarter against Lake Central at Chesterton High School in Chesterton, Ind., Friday, September 30, 2011. | Guy Rhodes~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 10, 2013 6:14AM



The question comes up all the time.

“Who else do we need to look at?”

College coaches are always searching for talent. And Chesterton football coach John Snyder is more than willing to point them in the right direction.

“If I’ve seen the kid and I think he’s a good player, I’ll definitely recommend him,” Snyder said in a phone interview earlier this week.

Catching a glimpse at talented players in the area will become a little easier with the return of the Region Elite Passing School camp.

Back after a short break, the camp gives participants a chance to improve their skill while gaining exposure.

“Whether he is from Gary, or Crown Point or Chesterton or Valpo, when we had this camp in the past, I was able to say, ‘hey I saw this kid at our REPS camp and you really should see this kid,’” Snyder said.

“It helps from a networking standpoint for the coaches and players, to be able to get the word out on their kids,” Portage coach Wally McCormack said. “We really try to take care of each others’ kids. During the season, everybody wants to win, but in the offseason, it’s all about trying to help kids from the area.

“… This gives us as coaches a better opportunity to learn about the kids in the region.”

The camp dates are April 14, 21, 28 and May 1 at Hobart High School. The camp costs $100 for registrations received prior to April 5 and $120 after. Walk-up registrations ($120) are welcomed. Registration information will be available at repsfootball.com. It’s open to all current high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

The first three dates, the kicking and punting academy takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The interior camp for offensive and defensive linemen, linebackers, running backs and tight ends is from 1-2:30 p.m. The skill camp (wide receiver, defensive backs and quarterbacks) is from 2:30-4 p.m.

“It’s an opportunity to compete against people from other schools and meet people from other schools and try to measure yourself up talent-wise from where you are,” McCormack said. “If you are a wideout, it’s a great opportunity to run routes against the best DBs in the area.”

On May 1, the REPS camp wraps up with the “college evaluation day.” According to the event’s website, information about the camp has been sent to more than 100 colleges and universities. Representatives from Division II, III, NAIA and junior college programs are expected to be in attendance (a 2008 ruling means Division IA coaches cannot attend). On college evaluation day, kicking and punting is from 5:30-7 p.m., the interior camp is 6:30-8 p.m. and the skill camp is 7:30-9 p.m.

“They’ll get exposure that they might not get all the time,” Snyder said.

The REPS camp ran for “four or five years” according to Snyder. Snyder said the camp hasn’t happened the last two years.

“I’ve always felt it was a great camp for our local kids,” he said. “Because of coaches going in different directions, we at that time decided to stop having it.”

Players from the area have gone to football camps in Indianapolis and the Chicagoland area. The return of the REPS camp gives players a chance to stay active in a sport they love a little closer to home.

“There have been some other coaches interested in doing it,” Snyder said. “I had some kids that were going to travel down to Indianapolis for a similar camp and I just said, ‘I really should try to run this camp again.’”

He got in touch with, among others, McCormack, Hobart coach Ryan Turley and Michigan City coach Mike Karpinski.

“The last couple of months we’ve been putting it all together and we’re ready to roll with it now,” Snyder said.

“There aren’t any other opportunities in the spring to do football. Not that we’re trying to take away from baseball or track or anything like that, we’re just trying to give the kids another opportunity to go to a football camp (and) develop their skills at a location that’s a much easier access.”

Snyder said the REPS camp will attempt to have a ratio of one coach for every six or seven athletes. The camp could have 20 to 30 coaches.

For the first time, the camp adds the kicking and punting academy. Bill Manolopoulos, who kicked at Indiana, and Kyle Yelton, who punted at Illinois, will lead that portion of the camp.

“We’ve had some really good punters and kickers come out of our area,” Snyder said. “It’s a chance for some other kids to get even better.”

And it’s a chance for everyone involved to get back to football.

“It’s about this time of year the people start to get the itch. They are like ‘OK, we are ready for some football.’ And we are still six months away,” Turley said. “… Once the spring sports start, football is right around the corner. In the blink of an eye, the spring seasons will be over and it will be football season. That’s pretty exciting.”



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