MELISSA — On Monday morning, June 12, Melissa third-through-ninth-grade boys got the chance to step on the same field used by the varsity football Cardinals — Melissa ISD Stadium — and train with some of the Cards’ same coaches. From the smiles on their faces and the energy shown in drills, they enjoyed every bit of it on this first day of football camp.

The four-day program featured instruction in fundamentals, with the Melissa coaching staff providing expertise. On Day 1, Cards defensive coordinator Travis Roberson was putting campers though running drills near the east sideline as coach Kyle Dezern’s station across the way concentrated on proper pre-snap stance for receivers. Nearby, a net target was set up for future Tate Whittington’s to hone their passing skills.

And when breaks were called, even the little guys strode to the water stations and handled the spigots just like pros.

Seth Stinton, Melissa boys athletic director and head football coach, took it all in at the north end of the field.

“We just want our young kids to kind of get used to being around some of our high school coaches,” he said. “Learning some of the drills that we do and learning some of the terminology that we use, it’s pretty important. But also, it’s an opportunity for them to get out here and really just have fun and be on the field that the high school kids are on. We know that these young guys look up to those high school kids. It’s important for us to really just give back and that’s kind of what we’re trying to do… It helps to build community and build some pride and some enthusiasm for all the things that we do in high school.”

“The more terminology and the more time a kid can spend being a Melissa Cardinal — that’s the biggest thing,” Stinton said. “That’s the coolest thing too about our school: We’re a one-high school town. Everybody that goes to every school, currently, is going to be a Melissa Cardinal.”