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Mount Vernon Hosts Inaugural Mini-Majors Football Camp

Mount Vernon head football coach Barry Wells talks with Tyrell Lee, left, and Graham Bartolomei.

Mount Vernon head football coach Barry Wells talks with Tyrell Lee, left, and Graham Bartolomei. Photo by Louise Krafft.

— In 2010, first-year head coach Barry Wells helped transform a winless Mount Vernon football team into a playoff participant. Two years later, Wells is continuing to build the program by developing relationships and continuity with local youth well before they don the maroon and gray.

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Joseph Word lines up for a drill during the inaugural Mini-Majors Football Camp on June 7 at Mount Vernon High School.

On June 5-7, Mount Vernon High School hosted the inaugural Mini-Majors Football Camp. About 25 athletes in elementary and middle school participated in the event, which was run by Majors coaches and players. Wells, a native of Harrisburg, Pa., is hoping to make future Majors familiar with the Mount Vernon program. While coaching in a transient area provides certain challenges and benefits, Wells wants to bond with the athletes who will be in the area long term.

"I’m from Pennsylvania, and in Pennsylvania, it’s all about the feeder system," Wells said. "When you go to some of those high schools, those kids have been running the same football system from the time they played little league right on up through high school. Even though this is a transient area with Fort Belvoir, my hope is for the kids that are here for the long term, that they’re going to eventually play for me, so I have a vested interest in watching how they progress and taking opportunities to get to know them, so it’s well worth the time."

Along with building relationships through the camp, Wells said he can gauge the talent that will potentially be passing through the program. What did he see during this three-day event?

"Even though this is a transient area with Fort Belvoir, my hope is for the kids that are here for the long term, that they’re going to eventually play for me, so I have a vested interest in watching how they progress and taking opportunities to get to know them, so it’s well worth the time."

— Mount Vernon football coach Barry Wells

"The future is bright," he said. "The only thing I really need is for the football gods to smile on us and bring some Texas linemen to Fort Belvoir, because if they do that, we’re going to be something to deal with."

Among Wells’ camp assistants was 2011 graduate and former defensive end/linebacker/tight end Julien Randolph, who after one year at Glenville State will join the football program at West Virginia University.

"It’s fun," Randolph said of helping at the camp. "I always wanted to be a coach. It’s a good experience to start off with."

What did the youths think of the camp?

"It was fun," 12-year-old Graham Bartolomei said. "We worked a lot on drills."

"I had a lot of fun," 11-year-old Tyrell Lee said. "I love football."

Wells said he’s hoping attendance doubles, at least, next year.

"The kids were very attentive, very enthusiastic, well behaved and from what I’m gathering from the parents," he said, "they all enjoyed themselves."