The New Mexico Strong Football camp had lots of action for its 143 campers to take part in.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain photos

Thanks to assistant football coach Chris Boykin, 143 athletes participated in the New Mexico Strong Football Camp at Socorro High School on April 15-16.

“I want to help the kids. I wanted the kids of Socorro to have this experience. It’s an experience they normally wouldn’t have,” Boykin said. “It’s more than about football. It’s about handling yourself off the field, on the field and in the classroom. Hopefully, they get the mindset that they set themselves up for recruitment.”

Boykin went to high school in Goldthwaite, Texas, where football is a little more passionate than in New Mexico, and while he’s not seeking to make things around here all Texas, he is seeking to bring something like teamwork and leadership to the forefront.

A New Mexico Football Strong camper takes down the wheel during a tackling drill.

This is the third camp Boykin has organized for football, but this is the first time the event has been held in Socorro, and it drew athletes from as far away as Cuba to participate. He worked for the past six months to bring coaches and former NFL players to give athletes the best possible experience.

It was also three years ago that Boykin met former Houston Oiler Rodrick Walker, and the two have become best friends as they work toward improving the skills and mindsets of young athletes.

“Number one is hard work. Hard work because we won’t settle for any light work or half-doing things around here. You know, we want you to be disciplined and put in some hard work and provide the energy and effort that it will take you to be better,” Walker said.

At least 90 minutes of Saturday morning was spent preparing for camp and football.

“Football prepares students for when they’re adults in the community, and they get out to do some good, change other people’s lives, be accountable, and be disciplined,” Walker said. “Just like you must be on time for your job or some meeting or something like that. We’re looking for a lot in these two days that isn’t about football. But there’s a lot that this sport does to prepare us for life.”

Coaches are also looking for other things from their players, and as Boykin explains, you don’t have to be in charge to lead.

“I want them to learn how to become leaders. Just like you look in the line right here, you see another kid telling the kid to do this, you know, they’re leaders. And that’s what I want, and to be honest with you, in this day and age—it’s what we need. Some of these kids aren’t going to like what’s said to them today. But it’s going to make them get thicker skin. We will see the cream rise to the top,” Boykin said.

The combination of work and fun was made even better as the athletes got a chance to get instruction from former Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Quincy Carter, Kwame Cavil (Buffalo Bills) and University of Texas coach Derrick Scott among others.