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Fairmont Senior to host State Champ Football Camp Friday at East-West Stadium

Jun. 7—FAIRMONT — There's no doubt that Fairmont and Marion County support their high school football programs.

Whether it be missing the playoffs or winning the state title, fans are always there. It's because of this support that Fairmont Senior will host the State Champ Football Camp at East-West Stadium Friday evening.

"It's been something that's real important to all of us," Fairmont Senior offensive coordinator Mark Sampson said. "Not only the younger kids that are coming up through our program, but anybody in the nearby community for their kids to come learn a little bit about our culture and our traditions and just have a fun night of football."

Any young football player from third to seventh grade can participate in the camp. It's free to register, but proof of insurance is required, according to posts on the FSHS Football Boosters Facebook page. And according to Head Coach Nick Bartic, there are some branded items for purchase if anyone wants something.

"We have things there for purchase if people want to get gear or anything like that in terms of memorabilia towards the program," Bartic said. "But our community supports us, and this is our way of giving back to them by having a free camp for the youth and kids grades three through seven."

The camp has been held consistently since 2017, Bartic said. The number of participants usually sits at 80 to 90, but Bartic said that last year's camp had close to 100 kids take part.

Kids start the camp similar to how the high school team starts a game, Bartic said. Pregame in the locker room, running out onto the field, and then pregame workouts to start the evening before the experience becomes a mix of a game and a standard practice session.

"They go through a regular practice of individual drills with a fundamentals focus," Bartic said. "Then we branch into group drills, and then it goes into what would be like a team period.

"The younger kids play what we call air-raid ball, and the older, more middle school age kids have more of a focus on position groups and their team. When they get to the team part, it's more of a functioning in regular offense or regular defense, and it's always capped off everyone with air-raid ball."

While the majority of the participants are from Marion County, Sampson said there have been kids coming from as far as Wheeling and Charleston participating in these camps. There's also been kids from out of state taking part.

"It's baseball season now for that age group," Sampson said. "So there's a lot of travel teams that might be in the area just for the night looking for something to do, and this free camp is a lot of fun. We've had multiple teams that are staying in a hotel in the area and find out about the camp, and they end up sending the whole team."

Even though this camp is meant for the third through seventh graders, the coaches, high school players, and others who volunteer get something out of it too. Both Sampson and Bartic love seeing the energy and excitement from the participants, and the high schoolers not only get volunteer hours but learn how to coach and connect with younger kids.

In total, it takes about 40 volunteers to run the camp, according to Bartic. This usually consists of coaches, high school players, and alumni of the Fairmont Senior football program. Sampson said alumni like Darius and Dante Stills, Zach Frazier, Gage Michael, Connor Neal and Aidan Green have returned to help at camp in the past.

"Almost anybody who kind of goes on to play college after their high school career for us, they're usually back in attendance to help run the camp," Sampson said.

Registration for the State Champ Football Camp begins at 5 p.m. on Friday. The camp itself begins at 6 p.m. and runs until 9 p.m.

Reach Colin C. Rhodes at 304-367-2548