For most of us, June marks the end of the school year, beginning of the beach season, and endless hours of sunshine. We look forward to bbq’s and cold drinks, hamburgers and hotdogs. Journeys are concluded with high school/college graduations and others are just beginning with kindergarten orientations. For the HIlltopper Football Family, it means only one thing………. Maroon and White Football Camp!
The Maroon and White 2018 Camp kicked off on a hot and humid Monday afternoon where temperatures hit over 100 degrees on the turf at Tatlock. Those conditions did very little to deter Head Football Coach Kevin Kostibos and the rest of the Hilltopper staff from orchestrating another successful and highly organized 2 day football event for our boys here in Summit.
From beginning to end, the boys, ranging in grades from 4th to 12th, were being instructed by some of the finest coaches in the area, along with speed and condition specialists working on basic motor skills and running fundamentals. Ranging from lateral movement to ball protection, stances and starts, it was a camp full of competitive nature highlighted by the grade-level Tug of War battles. All grades competed in the barbaric feature but the “main event” was the senior class, divided into two teams, battling it out for ownership of the Summit “S” at midfield. Led by Captain Jackson Tyler, this team of senior gridiron greats hurled their counterparts over the “S” in grueling fashion to claim what they forcefully earned, the right to call themselves “camp champs!”
This year’s camp had a little different feel to it, as more competitions were included in the two-day event. Some of the those competitions were O-Line vs. D-Line route running, garbage can football toss, and as mentioned above, the tug of war. However, all eyes and ears were locked in as Summit Hilltopper alum and current NY Giant Ryan O’Malley stopped by to talk to the campers.
“Watching you guys out here brings me back to the days when I competed in this camp.” O’Malley stated. “Playing football for Summit was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I would give anything to put on the Maroon and White one more time.” O’Malley went on to discuss with the campers his journey from Hilltopper to Giant and how his conversation with ex-NFL great Howie Long was career changing. O’Malley explained, “When I was with the Raiders, they brought in Howie Long to talk with us. He told us how there are guys who get after it and guys who are just happy to be on the roster. Whether it’s peewee or the pros, it’s the same message. Which type of football player do you want to be?”
It was great to see over 100 football players running around to kick off the summit football summer. As the on-lookers viewed the drills, competitions, and instruction, it could easily be recognized that this event has become a staple of the community and an opportunity to see Summit Football’s finest.
Check out the video below for an action-packed look at this year’s camp.
By Kyle Standing - SHS class of 2019
In today’s world, stereotypes are used often to describe our peers. Whether it be race, religion, height, weight, or many others, many are naturally inclined to make assumptions based off of these classifications. High school students can even be judged by their involvement in sports or activities. “Jock” and “meathead” are nouns that are often used to describe athletes and particularly football players. Fortunately, the same world where stereotypes are used is the same world where those very assumptions are proven wrong, with a perfect example being the Summit High School Football team. Regardless of the words that are thrown around about them, the performances of Summit High’s football players both on and off the field show the community that a better phrase to describe them would be “student athlete.” Specific examples of this come in the form of four members of the graduating class who have all decided to take their talent on and off the gridiron to universities of high integrity and class. These four being Wide Receiver, Max Hayford (committed to The College of New Jersey), Lineman Joe Shepard (committed to Cornell University), Free Safety Luca Curran (committed to University Of Pennsylvania) and Center Kevin Cahill (committed to Penn State University). These four, along with many alumni and current players, are debunking these unjustified stereotypes on a daily basis.
These four extraordinary kids will tell you that the “dumb jock” stereotype is very much alive in the world, but is not so much alive within our community with the program holding high standards for its players on both the football field and in the classroom and, while they were true standouts in between the lines, they point more toward their academic success as the reason for their commitments. Luca Curran went on to say, “Football players definitely get a bad reputation of being dumb jocks. I think at least in Summit that stereotype is being knocked down though. Most of the kids that get recruited and go on to play college football out of Summit actually get that opportunity because of our status as excellent students.” He later says “I would believe that Summit is a town where the student athlete is flourishing. I don’t think that I am viewed by my peers as a jock which is excellent.” Similarly, teammate and classmate Kevin Cahill, when asked how he felt about the “jock” stereotype in Summit, stated,”I do not think football players are seen as jocks at Summit High School because academics is very important to every kid and being a student athlete is the goal when you are playing for Summit.” It is clear to see that these kids are not only held to high standards by coaches and teachers, but by themselves. They make it their primary goal to succeed in the classroom before handling business every weekend on the field.
Some may ask how they do this as there is a load of work that goes into being exceptional students but a whole other load that is added on both in season and in the off season that leads to their success on the field. The answer, according to these men, is simple. It all comes down to scheduling and organizing one’s time. As Max Hayford puts it, “football brought out a hardworking trait in me that allowed me to push myself on the field and off. It was hard adjusting to High School but I eventually found a routine where I would be able to manage all of my school work along with competing in sports. Joe Shepard had a very different beginning to his career but a very similar ending to his fellow Seniors, claiming, “Sophomore year was my first year playing football so having freshman year to adjust academically to high school definitely helped.” He would then talk about his struggles between two sizeable commitments but came to the same conclusion by the end of his career.” It really helped me find a schedule and a way to manage my time after practice and during study hall.” With possibly the two largest commitments you can obtain as a student at Summit High, these men were able to work themselves into a system that worked for them that would allow for them to succeed in both of those elements of their lives and are now very prepared for the next level where they will look to continue that same success.
These four are only continuing the path to success that has been set by alumni before them, with many kids from past Hilltopper squads thriving at the next level at exceptional schools. They, at the same time, have set an excellent example for student athletes that will come after them and this very example is something that can eliminate the “jock” stereotype in the community all together. Hayford, when asked about the difficulties of balancing his commitments, said it perfectly. “You’re a student first, then an athlete and I think most people follow that phrase and strive to be student athletes.”
When asked his opinion of the success his players have had on the field and in the classroom, Head Football Coach Kevin Kostibos had this to say, "The colleges that our players are continuing their athletic careers at are just so impressive. This may be the one thing I'm most proud of. We emphasize with our players that we want guys who understand that the academic and athletic worlds are very similar. Just as we prepare for a game on the field, they must prepare for a test in the classroom. That includes studying game film just as they should study notes and classwork. It's a mental toughness that must be stressed as early as possible. Look at the list of where kids have gone on to play; Harvard, Hopkins, UPenn, Cornell, Middlebury, Brown, just to name a few. We look for our players to dominate seven days a week, not just gameday. The scholar-athlete is very much alive and well in our football family here in Summit."
Check out HilltopperU to view all past Scholar Athletes and where they have played.
Our Summit youth football program belongs to the NJSYFL (New Jersey Suburban Youth Football League) and each year they have an award ceremony where they offer $500 scholarships to winners of an essay contest from the participating 12 towns. They request players to write an essay about what football means to them and how it has shaped them in some way. We have never had a winner before and this year, current 8th Grade Jalmari Paasonen, won the contest. His essay describes what the football program means to not only him but the town, alumni, and community. Jay is native to Finland and has two brothers, Ollie and Kalle, who have come through the program. Read his essay below about his Hilltopper experience.
Over the course of years, football has become greatly challenging physically, mentally, and emotionally. The players grow substantially, the plays develop more convoluted, and failing to complete a play expands to depression. All states of a person vary throughout football, but the concept remains. The Summit football program stands not only at strapping on a helmet and heading to the field, it is tremendously more intriguing. Honoring the players of the past, acknowledging the roots one flourished from, and setting a tone for the future players. The listed are only a fraction of the vast definition. The program is based on three key elements; pride, discipline, and tradition. Those principles are the backbone of the philosophy of the program.
A game must not be played without the right attitude. In beating a team, skill plays a slight role. One must have the will to win. One must have the pride. The mindset to every battle, on and off the field, is always to exit with a triumph. Forcing the opponent away from the quarterback, arriving at the correct location to tackle down the ball carrier, and dashing faster than all others to the end zone. This lesson may as well be applied to everyday life. Maintaining one’s competitiveness is a natural aspect in life. In school finishing the assigned work prior to the class, fighting to master a complex instrument, or even persisting after rejection. Managing pride means enduring and never surrendering; a skill educated in football.
To never complain of the resources offered. Discipline in football is thoroughly hammered into the mindset of players the very first practice of the very first season. No questioning the coach's orders, only completion. Hardships in the sport are a daily aspect. Disagreeing with a position, opposing a specific play, and being located off the field. Most crucial of all, the precedent to never be late. One must grasp this discipline hard to endure the season and succeed in life. All challenges in life, physical and mental have a set of rules. With home chores, indolence is not to be thought of. One must overcome and execute. Away from home, at school a test is a particular region for slacking. To prosper in life, one must authentically matriculate the exam. The tenacious discipline in football informed one to never trick himself.
Always respect the past experiences. Traditions in football last forever. The game is altered through rules and players, but the idea remains. The special pregame warm up, kicking off the season of with a deliberate camp, and gathering together by clasping hands as marching into the match. To dishonor such profound traditions is found uncivilized, both on the field and in life. Unraveling gifts one at a time on Christmas, expressing gratefulness with five different languages on a birthday, and indulging an arrival refreshment at the summer cottage. To re-huddle, traditions will remain and repeat annually. Each is meaningful, but the memories gathered from individual experiences assemble one to be unforgettable. With no praise for special traditions, extraordinary images will not form in the mind. Without memories, life will end stale and empty. Considerate traditions in football instruct one to appreciate memorable moments shared with teammates, friends, and loved ones.
Arriving from Finland, football began as a whole new concept of a sport. The idea of running into one another may seem extreme, but as advancing that is only a fraction of the grand scheme. Pride, discipline, and traditions were always an element in a person; football helped to enrich the understanding and expand the essence of them to life. One may believe to have acquired the significance of life, but only a false interpretation. To truly understand, one must have played football.
Our first blog post talked about the safety of football and why parents should not let fear deter them from allowing their sons to play. Our next post talks specifically about why you should let your son play football in Summit. We all want our sons to grow up to be great men. Football is key.
If you want to help your son become a better man, have him play Summit football
1. Football is played in bright sunshine, 90-degree plus heat, freezing rain, frigid snow and bone chilling weather. During life, we will face many storms that we have to weather through. Football teaches us how to do so. To succeed, we must carry on regardless of the weather or whatever crisis we are encountering during that time and stay focused on our path.
2. A huddle is comprised of the big, small, fast, and slow. A huddle is made up of different races, religious beliefs, different economic situations, and unequal mentality levels. We all must work together in order to create a successful play. Football teaches us that in life, we must be able to work with people of all beliefs, talents, races, and religions in order to move forward on our journey towards success. The only color that matters is that of the helmet.
3. A receiver must sometimes go up in a crowd to make a catch. In life, there are times we must rise above the crowd for the good of the whole. Certainly as a husband and a father, a man will need to soar higher for the welfare of his friends and family. You need to have the determination to “go up” when others play it safe on the ground.
4. A lone punt returner must be calm and confident in order to catch a punt with eleven defenders closing in on him. In life, there will be many times a man will need to be calm in the face of a crisis. Football teaches us that in life, like returning a punt, we are not alone and we have other “teammates” we can depend on. We must learn to silence the outside noise and focus on the task at hand.
5. Eleven players must all know the “count” if a play is going to be successful. If one forgets or twitches just a hair, the entire play is a failure. Football teaches us that we must all work with and depend upon others to be successful. If just one person “twitches”, and slips up on the job, the project will not be a success. Football thrives on the concepts of teamwork and accountability.
6. There are times a “goal-line stand” is needed to secure victory. In life, there will be times when we need a strong commitment to others, an unbreakable belief in ourselves, and a heavy perseverance in order to stand up for the team and find success for others. Football, through the “goal line stand”, teaches us how to react when our backs are against the wall and others are counting on us for support. It teaches us how to stand tall and look adversity straight in the eye.
7. Football, like life, is full of highs and lows, successes and setbacks. Football teaches us the importance of getting up after being knocked down. Football emphasizes learning from failures and continuing to move forward, the value of working with and depending on others. Football stresses the character of a person is most important and that bias and prejudice, like in life, holds everyone back.
Post in the comment section below about your experiences. Football has molded boys into men since its inception. There’s nothing more powerful than first hand accounts.
By: Gil Owren, SHS Class of 1958
Playing football for the Summit Hilltoppers under Coach Howie Anderson was one of my highlights while growing up in Summit during the 1950s. The experience taught me important life skills, including the value of teamwork, the importance of discipline, the advantage of proper conditioning, how to make decisions under pressure, displaying good sportsmanship, and testing my courage when faced with stiff competition during games.
Sixty years later, the current safety concern about the effects of playing football in the NFL is reaching the high school and youth tackle programs across the country. While the long-term safety concerns may be legitimate at the NFL level, there is a sharp distinction between playing in the NFL and playing football at the youth and high school levels. In researching this topic I found studies that support my opinion, including the results of two very recent studies.
In January 2017 the Mayo Clinic, a world-class team of over 330,000 doctors, scientists and researchers, published the results of a study, High School Football and Late-Life Risk af Neurodegenerotive Syndromes, 1956-1970. This Study was conducted to assess whether athletes who played varsity football between 1956-1970 at the public high school in Rochester, Minnesota have an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases later in life. The study identified 296 varsity football players and 190 athletes who played other varsity sports. The Mayo Clinic concluded, "Compared with nonfootball athletes, football players did not have an increased risk of neurogenerative diseases overall or of the individual conditions of dementia, parkinsonism, and amyotrophic internal sclerosis."
In July 2017 American Medical Association published the results of a similar study, Association of Playing High School Football With Cognition ond Mental Health Later in Life. Using data from a Wisconsin Study of men who played high school football and graduated in 1957, the AMA reported " ... there was no statistically or clinically harmful association between playing football in high school and increased cognitive impairment or depression later in life."
Over the last 50 years, I have had the privilege and pleasure of coaching Summit football at every level. Rest assured that playing football in Summit is safer today than it has ever been. Consider the following safety precautions:
1. Every player must pass a physical examination conducted by his own doctor prior to participating.
2. All Summit Youth Football coaches must complete a course, Youth Tackle Football, and receive certification from USA Football before coaching. All Summit High School coaches must have a teaching certificate and successfully complete numerous courses related to football player safety.
3. Recent N.J. Laws passed by the state legislature to implement more stringent safety standards, especially relating to concussion protocol.
4. Each year High School Football Rules are reviewed and updated to better address player safety.
5. Several years ago, the Summit Board of Education adopted a policy for the prevention and treatment of injuries, including a detailed protocol relating to concussions. The Summit High football program has approximately 90 players grades from 9-12. During the 2016 season 3 players suffered concussions and 4 players experienced concussions during the 2017 season. These players followed the concussion protocol and returned to practice when they were cleared. It should be noted the number of concussions in football is similar to the number of concussions in other sports at Summit High School, including men's soccer and men's lacrosse.
6. Safety measures have increased for all levels of tackle football. At the youth level, Summit Youth Football has instituted flag football for grades K-5. Tackle football starts for grades 6-8. Summit Youth Football fields 3 teams (6, 7, & 8) in the Suburban Youth Football League, playing one game each week against teams from surrounding towns. The upcoming season marks Summit's 481h year of participation in League play. League rules restrict practice time and all coaches must be certified, as mentioned above.
7. At the high school level, practice time has been reduced and the amount of contact during practices has also been decreased to increase player safety.
8. Summit's Overlook Hospital is one of two hospitals in NJ that has a Center for Concussion Care. A certified trainer is assigned by the Center to attend every Summit Youth Football home game. A team doctor, familiar with concussion protocol, is at every high school game. A certified trainer is also at every high school game and available for every practice. It should be noted that Summit High School has two certified trainers who are full-time staff members.
9. Prior to the 2017 football season, the mothers of Summit's five captains helped raise $35,000.00 to purchase new, upgraded helmets for the 2017 season. They replaced helmets that were fully certified, but the new helmets were an improvement from standpoint of player safety.
10. For the 2018 season, Summit plans to purchase a protective cap that is worn over the helmet during practice for additional player safety.
Enhanced safety equipment and measures require funding. The community of Summit, led by the Summit Board of Education, Summit's Department of Community Programs, parents, and the Summit Football Alumni Association, has always made sure that our young men have the safest possible environment to enjoy playing the game of football in Summit.