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During NFL football camp at Haverhill Stadium Kevin Verrochi, 14, gets help from volunteer coach Jim Laureadeau on how to position himself with his head and rear end up, as fellow freshman Tim Cambell, 14, laughs with his teammate and coach.

In an attempt to boost youth football programs in the country, the National Football League — perhaps the world's most successful professional sports league — is sponsoring camps for kids across the country, and one is running here in Haverhill this week.

Over 80 kids, ages 12 to 14, are participating in the six-day NFL Junior Player Developmental Camp at Haverhill Stadium, said Haverhill High head football coach Tim Briggs, the camp's site manager who was instrumental in securing the camp, which is free, for the city.

"It's an outstanding program for the kids. They do not have to pay to attend and they will receive all kinds of free stuff and gear. It will be of value to the coaches as well," Briggs said. "It should be a great learning experience for everyone. The NFL has given us the curriculum to follow and it's about more than just football."

The program includes 12 practices and integrated on-field skills development with life skills and character development, said Briggs. Players are provided with equipment to use this week.

In running the camp, Briggs is joined by members of the Hillies' football coaching staff, the city's youth football league coaches and Vincent Pettis, the head football coach at Sanborn Regional High School who is a former Hillies coach.

In addition, outside speakers, including a former member of the New England Patriots, perhaps Andre Tippett, are sharing their football expertise with campers, said Briggs.

From tackling to blocking, all basic fundamentals of the game are being taught, said Briggs, who noted that each athlete is learning to play and will have an opportunity to try each position.

"A lot of times kids are pigeon-holed at certain positions because of their size," Briggs said. "Here, everyone will have a chance to play (different positions), and that's a good thing."

Briggs is hoping the NFL Junior Player Developmental Camp becomes a "tradition" in Haverhill.

"We are hoping to have a good start this year, and get something going for the future," Briggs said. "This is a great opportunity for the city's football program."



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