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We have had literally dozens of you calling and asking the question of the 2012 High School Football Pre-Season. What Camps and Clinics Should I Go To? We have been waiting to give you all a definitive response and have had to wait on one event. That event was the much anticipated hand off of the Northwest Elite Football Camp; commonly known as the “Gesser Camp”. Well folks we have the answer but want to explain the back story.
The camp used to be known as the Nike Northwest Elite Football Camp. It had been held in the Seattle area in the years past and as the years went along it cemented it’s position as the premier camp in the Region. Of the camps that you need to pay to get into this camp produced the best combination of skill testing and overall camp satisfaction with those polled.
The thing that makes the NWEFC stand out above the rest was the fact that the campers who went, almost 400 last year, all got plenty of action and got a chance to show what they could do at Point Blank range to a cadre of College Coaches including many Head College Coaches from Major D-1 Universitites.
Now for those of you readers who are new to the Recruiting and camp scene understand this. College coaches under current NCAA rules can not be present to watch prospective recruits work out unless said work out takes place at their campus at an NCAA approved event. That is the rule with very very rare exceptions in the months of June and July.
That said these camps are a Golden Opportunity for kids to be seen and to compete against the best kids in the region who are their piers. “Show Up and Show Out” the saying goes.
So former Eastside Catholic Head Coach Jason Gesser designed the NWEFC camp to bring top Northwest Collegiate Coaches in to coach Northwest High School kids. Over the 3 or 4 years he ran the event he struck gold with many kids being seen for the first time by Coaches who would go on to recruit them later.
For additional clarity it is important to understand that these Coaches can “Coach” but not “Evaluate” the kids. That means if they are there they better have their sleeves rolled up and be working.
That sure was the case as we saw Big Sky, Mountain West, and Pac 12 Coaches there grinding it out old school in the drills and skills these past few years.
BIG POINT HERE: The Camp has no Combine.
A quirk in the NCAA rules that says that if there is a Combine (testing in the 40, Bench, Vertial Leap, Broad Jump, Shuttle) the Coaches are banned form being there. Period! But combines are a dime a dozen and loosing their appeal and importance.
Ok. Point made?
400 kids. Major Coaches and Schools galore. Top Talent. A fun time and just a bubbly terrific football event. That was the camp as we knew it up until now.
But a wrench was thrown into all of that this camp season as a result of the fact that Jason Gesser left for Washington State and then moved to Idaho as a Coach in the Fall of 2011. As a college coach he really could not ethically or practically run it this year.
Shut the camp down or sell the camp name and turn it over to another group.
A decision he needed only a few minutes to decide on as several suitors popped up almost immediately once the word spread.
But Coach Gesser had a legacy camp ; one that had walked the walk and talked the talk in the camp world. A world filled with out of town “Flash Men” and profit seeking “More Money For Me” types who are known for being as ethical as Carnival barkers.
No folks. Coach Gesser wanted to find the right fit. And he had several people who would bid for a shot to carry the torch. In the end there was really one clear choice. So Jason made it.
Those of you in Seattle, especially in Ballard, will recognize the names Cole Morgan and Eddie Behringer. They ended up with the camp and are the proud new Owners.
For those of you that do not know they were part of the legendary 2003 Ballard Beaver squad who came within one Touch Down of the 4A WIAA State Title loosing to Pasco 21-14.
Behringer was an All State Receiver and superb athlete who left Ballard for college and moved on to University of Puget Sound where he helped lead the Loggers to many wins over his Collegiate career. He is the founder of a very successful start up called ComeBackSports.com where they run the biggest Flag Football, Soccer, Softball, and Dodge Ball events in the country for athletes who are out of school and looking to stay involved, connected, and have fun. Find Out More Here and also Check this out!
This guy gets it and has found a way to extend his career as a student athlete into the business world while promoting fitness and fun. That folks is a guy who walked the walk through High School and College as a top recruit and is proving that his winning formula extends off the field. The kind of guy you want running a camp your going to send your kids to.
He came into the purchase of the Northwest Elite Football Camp through a guy that has trusted and known all of this life. The same guy who started tossing him footballs when they were 7 or 8 years old. That guy is none other then his life long pal and QB Cole Morgan.
Morgan was the gunslinger behind the Beavers and one of the “Ballard Four” as they were
known. That group all went on to D-1 Schools and are shown in the picture here that we obtained from Facbook.
Morgan went on to WSU where he was able to work his way into the rotation but was stuck behind a couple of WSU greats; Alex Brink in particular. Cole transferred to Western Washington for a year and closed out his Collegiate Career at Central Washington in 2009 where he started and led the team to the Semi Finals of the National Championships.
His career since College has included the job as the Offensive Coordinator at Bellingham in 2010 and a very successful career for ADRENALINE FUNDRAISING where he using his skills as a business man and former QB to raise money for High School Sports teams.
Could there have been a better duo of guys to carry on the legacy of this Football Showcase camp done right?
No. There could not have. The fact that they are local success stories who played High School and College ball in the Evergreen State only make it all the better.
So to get to the bottom line of what should be the Best Camp of 2012 for Northwest collegiate hopefuls we interviewed new owner Cole Morgan and have these answers for you:
WP: Cole thanks to taking the time. Tell us exactly when and where the Camp is.
CM: June 8th From 5-8 PM at Mercer Island High School
WP: Awesome! First Major Camp of the Year! What will the cost be?
CM: We are very happy to announce that we have been able to maintain the camps #1 value by keeping the costs at $65 per camper which will include T-Shirts.
CM: It really is. That is about 1/2 of what other camps are charging and they do not have the Collegiate Coaches we do. That is the amazing thing that people need to understand. It would costs hundreds of dollars to travel to even one college camp to be seen. When I was a Senior I hit 13 College Camps. That cost my folks over $2,000 dollars not including all the travel. So at our camp you will have at least that many colleges there. So is $65 a great deal? For sure it is!
WP: Why Mercer Island? This event had been at Skyline and at Eastside in years past?
CM: I am glad you asked that. They have 4 fields there. That is one of the absolute best places we could possibly be. There are lined fields and we need that to coach these kids and run drills and the competitions we will have. The school has worked out a 2 year agreement with us and we just had to move it there. It will be a special fit for us and will allow the camp to grow.
WP: Sound great! Simple question. Why? What made you buy a camp and get into an already over crowded business?
CM: The Kids! This is about the kids. The camp at $65 is not going to make much money and not going to lose much. But Eddie and I are here for the kids. This was us just a few years ago. We are as close to these guys in age as anyone could be and we want them to have their shot.
WP: Is it realistic for assume that a kid who works hard can make it? There are so many kids out there trying to chase that dream aren’t there?
CM: Yes there are. But the facts remain if you love football there is a place for you to play. This event is a chance to be seen, to gage where your at as a player, and have fun too!
WP: You guys are both busy guys so really where is this all going? Will your group run this once a year showcase or do more events?
CM: That will be determined by the kids and families and what they want. So stay tuned on that!
WP: What about this hook up with you and Eddie?
CM: He caught the first ball I ever threw and you know we are still hooking up. It’s a dream come true for a couple of local kids.
WP: What else should people know about this Camp as the onwership changes over this year?
CM: There are a few things I want to state for the record as I am aware that our Mission here is to help the kids. And I want to be clear on the following things. They are:
This camp will not EVER be a combine. Combines are not helping kids get to college.
We will NEVER rank kids. That is not our Job. That is for Kids and Coaches to sort out. No one should even attempt to do that as it just can not be done and be accurate.
We are in the business of providing a platform for these kids to compete. A place where they can be seen.
This Camp and any camp we host will be for the kids benefit first. We have jobs and of course this camp can be profitable but that is not the goal for us.
We will always do what is best for the kids and we want to work with all of the great High School Coaches in the Northwest to strengthen their teams and not take away from them.
WP: Boy those are simple things but so important. And with that Mission you are promising accountability in a time that many people feel that High School Football is going the way of AAU Hoops with Street Agents and “Promoter” types really expanding their grab for the kids.
CM: Yes exactly. We have to do right by the kids!
WP: Last question and we will let you go. Are you planning to start a recruiting business that charges a fee to kids or families that has you representing kids in the Collegiate recruiting process to colleges?
CM: Oh my goodness NO. I don’t ever want to feel as a camp director that kids, parents or worse yet Coaches would feel we were trying to force an outcome for kids. We will never do that sort of thing.
WP: Coach your taking the bull by the horns here! How old are you again?
CM: 26. Perfect age for this sort of thing don’t you think?
WP: Absolutely. Coach thanks for taking the time and we hope your time with the Northwest Elite Football Camp is fruitful and productive!
CM: Thanks you guys have been great. We have been a part of the camp the last couple of years so we are well aware of what we need to do. And Eddie and I and all of us could not be more excited!
Rivals.com and WashingtonPreps.com will be at Camp getting full coverage and film on all the highlights. So far the U of W Huskies have confirmed, Boise State, OSU, WSU, Portland State, Idaho, and the list is growing rapidly. The camp is for High school age only but is NOT, I repeat NOT, an Invite Only. It is open to anyone wanting to learn! This should be the biggest and best camp of the year.
Dirk is a lifelong resident of the Pacific NW; athlete and Merit scholar. He runs camps, clinics, and has been a sports writer and analyst for nearly a decade now; mostly with Rivals.com as the editor of OregonPreps and WashingtonPreps.com. Dirk is the founder of NWPR & BrainChampions.org; a charity for injured athletes suffering from Brain Trauma / Concussion. He is a father of three and married.