Camp of Champions


Tyler McNally (14) of Struthers races against Dean Steliotes (14) of Pittsburgh, PA during Cardinal Mooney Camp of Champions at the football field, Monday June 29, 2009 Lisa-Ann Ishihara


Jared Perdue, 9, of Youngstown and Aaron Woodberry, 11, of Youngstown participate in an exercise to test their agility during Cardinal Mooney Camp of Champions at the football field, Monday June 29, 2009.

College coaches offer kids words of wisdom, playing tips at Mooney football clinic

By John Kovach


Ron Stoops, director of the eighth annual Cardinal Mooney Football Camp of Champions that began Monday and will continue today, said the event is a valuable asset for area youth and a good public relations tool for Mooney and the community.

“The greatest asset is for the young kids to hear encouraging words. The camp may not make a difference in their football abilities, but they will learn what it takes to be successful. They will learn that it is important to be a good person, student and teammate,” said Stoops, a son of Ron Stoops, the former Mooney offensive coordinator, and brother of college coaches Bob, Mike and Mark Stoops.

“The parents and teachers tell them that but it may not make a difference [to] them, but when they hear it from some of these [camp] coaches, it could make a difference. When parents and teachers tell them that, it may not sink in. The way it is today, you have to have good grades to make it.”

Monday’s opening day of the camp for boys from third to eighth grades attracted 210 aspiring players and a number of famous coaches from Mooney High and the Youngstown area, who served as camp instructors and/or speakers.

Headlining the camp staff were coaches Bo Pelini of Nebraska and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma.

Bob Stoops spoke to the young players along with Herb Herbstreit, the ESPN college football studio analyst and former Ohio State quarterback; Bernie Kosar, former Boardman High, Miami (Fla.) and Cleveland Browns’ quarterback; and Jed York, president of the San Francisco 49ers.

Other college assistant coaches turning out for the camp were Tim Beck (Mooney) and Ross Watson (Austintown Fitch), both assistants on Pelini’s staff at Nebraska; Mark Stoops (Ron’s and Bob’s brother from Mooney and Arizona); Reno Ferri (Mooney and Akron), Frank Colaprete (Mooney and Georgetown), D.J. Durkin (Boardman and Stanford), Nick Sicliano (Fitch and Ohio State) and Sean Terlecky (Niles and Mercyhurst). Pete Rekstis from Kent State, former Youngstown State aide, also was present.

“The 210 [campers] are not the most that we have had, but we are expecting a few more tomorrow, so we should be up to 225. I think that there are more camps in the area now, and that our camp may have created an interest in having more camps,” said Ron Stoops.

“It does a lot of good for the community and also Cardinal Mooney to bring in all these coaches at one camp. I think that it is a great treat for the people to come out here and see a lot of college football coaches.”

Stoops said that the Mooney collegiate coaching fraternity continues to increase, and that the camp provides a summer reunion for them and other coaches from the area.

“For so many coaches, it gives them a chance to network with each other,” said Stoops.

He said that his other brother, Mike Stoops, the Arizona coach, was unable to make the camp, while Mark Mangino, the Kansas coach from New Castle, also did not make the camp but attended the the bocce fundraiser Sunday at the MVR Club.

Ron Stoops’ camp sentiments were echoed by Bill Aaron, a 14-year-old from St. Luke’s who will be entering Mooney this year. Aaron agreed with Stoops that the camp lets young people know the elements of success from successful people.

“You learn the benefit of hard work and what it takes to be successful,” said Aaron. “You learn the importance of believing in your self and the other people who are trying to help you.”

Aaron said that he has been coming to the Mooney camps “probably since I was in the third grade,” and that, “I am looking forward to coming here.”

But for John Michael Mitchell, who will be 10 next month, the Mooney camp was a new experience.

“I never did anything like this before. This is the first time I have been to a football camp,” said Mitchell, who was accompanied by his grandfather, Joe Nudo, the former Woodrow Wilson football coach.

Mitchell, who lives in Virginia and is the son of Tracey Nudo, said he has never played tackle football but Nudo said that his grandson has played flag football.

“The drills helped me the most. I learned about my stance. I am going to be a defensive lineman,” said Mitchell about his camp experience.

Nudo, who has two other grandchildren but noted that John Michael is the only boy, said the camp is valuable for children.

“It introduces boys to football. They learn good lessons that it is important to be a good person and to get good grades and to be a team player,” said Nudo.

SEE ALSO: Pelini: Character, academics are key.