ER sees surge in preseason participation
Last year, Jason Brewer brought a new team motto, “brotherhood,” to Eagle River High’s football program.
One way he helped strengthen that bond was by holding a preseason sleepaway camp on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson.
The second-year head varsity head coach held the five-day camp again this year — and participation nearly doubled in size. Fifty-four kids were on base the first day of camp Monday, July 29, up from 28 last year.
“Great numbers,” Brewer said.
Senior Josh Bogowith attributed the increase to his head coach.
“He’s turning things around,” Bogowith said.
Spending five straight days together builds team chemistry, Bogowith said.
“It’s a really good thing for the school,” he said. “It brings the brotherhood closer.”
The camp also shows who’s committed to the program, Bogowith said.
One of the camp’s major focal points was fitness.
Every morning, the team woke at 6:30 a.m. and ran nearly four miles to a cafeteria for breakfast. Then, buses shuttled the Wolves to ERHS for a six-and-a-half-hour practice.
Once back on base, the team talked strategy and relaxed with movies, games, etc, before doing it all again the next day.
As the school with the smallest enrollment out of the eight Cook Inlet Conference teams, several Eagle River athletes play both ways, making it essential for the team to enter the season in shape, said senior Peter Kott. The camp did just that, he said.
“There’s lots of running and conditioning,” Kott said.
The overnight camp also teaches the Wolves about their teammates, junior Isaiah Banks said.
“You learn the pros and cons about people,” he said.
Last season, the camp was invaluable, Brewer said. When Eagle River suffered injuries, he said, the camaraderie built during the preseason helped pull the team through that adversity.
The life lessons learned at the camp extend beyond the gridiron, Brewer said.
“We’re not only building football players, we’re building young men,” he said.