Gateway’s Holl staying busy this summer
As coach of a state finalist, Don Holl’s football season ran much longer into winter than most, and the start of summer camp is now only weeks away.
How did he spend his free weekends in between?
Well, some of them he spent coaching players at USA Football regional camps in Virginia, Maryland and Ohio, proof that the veteran football coach enjoys his job.
“Without a question,” Holl said. “Maybe I enjoy it more than I ever have.”
Most recently, Holl was an instructor at the U.S. National Training Camp in Canton, Ohio, for a three-day workout June 29-July 1. The camp at Walsh University was an inaugural event for USA Football, which also held a series of 24 camps all across the country.
The invitation-only sessions in Canton drew 259 athletes. Holl was among four instructors who worked with the quarterbacks, a specialty for the Gateway coach.
“I had them go through some of the drills we do,” said Holl, who helped quarterback Brady Walker graduate last spring as the second-leading passer in WPIAL history. “And then we really emphasized some stations to develop certain skills, whether they be shotgun, quick drops, drop-back drops, sprint-out stuff or whatever. You get a lot of fundamental work and individual work, and then you do a lot of stuff that looks like a regular practice.”
The invitation to Canton was the result of an earlier invitation to Florida. Holl attended the USA Football National Conference for coaches last January.
USA Football, established in 2002 with money from the NFL and NFL Players Association, is an organization that promotes youth football.
“They paid for a room and they paid for the conference, I had to do my own travel to Orlando,” Holl said. “So I took my wife and went and attended the conference. To be honest, it was really outstanding. I’ve been to a lot of coaches conferences. They did a great job.”
Holl applied to work the two camps nearest to home in suburban Washington D.C. and Baltimore. He was chosen and worked the D.C. camp April 14-15 in Annandale, Va.
“It’s a pretty neat process,” Holl said. “They kind of have you peer evaluated. The players that you work with evaluate you, and then the staff that runs the camp evaluates you. It’s pretty competitive while you’re actually working the camp. My feeling was that I must have done a good job.”
He was invited back to work the Baltimore camp June 2-3. It was there that he was invited to Canton.
“In most fields, you hope you’re doing a good job, you work at it and you certainly have confidence in what you do,” Holl said, “but it’s always nice to be a little bit validated for your work by some people who you don’t know yet, and they think you do a good job.
“You feel like you’re helping some kids because quarterback are reaching back out to you, following you on Twitter and saying: ‘Hey, thanks, I learned some good stuff.’ It’s been a cool experience.”
The USA Football connections led Holl to take 20 of his Gateway players to Maryland last weekend. The Gators pass scrimmaged Archbishop Spalding of Severn, Md., on Monday, and Baltimore’s Calvert Hall on Tuesday. In between, Holl took his players to a Yankees-Orioles game at Camden Yards.
Holl had met Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis at the USA Football camps.
“One of the neat things about our business is the relationships that you make and you develop,” Holl said. “We’ve developed one, become fast friends and already got our teams together. They’re really good, and it was a great experience for our kids.”