Bunch football camp to take place June 16 at SPIRE

Jarrod Bunch (far right) leads his 2017 Jarrod Bunch Football Camp at Lakeside High School in Saybrook Township. Bunch is returning to the county for the camp this year. It is scheduled for June 16 at SPIRE Institute.

Jarrod Bunch will bring his football camp to the county June 16.

The Ashtabula High School graduate will lead his own high school team in the fall — Beverly Hills in California.

Bunch’s local camp is

from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for grades two to eight at SPIRE Institute.

“All the local little leagues have been a part of ... Jefferson, Edgewood, Ashtabula ... even Painesville and Mentor,” the former Michigan Wolverine and New York Giants running back said.

About 100 youth players have signed up, but for those who still want to join, go to www.totalcamps.com/FUNDAMENTALS and search for Jarrod Bunch camp.

“We want to start them off learning football the correct way, the safest way possible, to have fun and compete,” Bunch said. “Football has continued to change and now it’s the safest it’s ever been. It’s better to start the new changes when they’re in junior high and little league and go through the program learning the fundamentals.”

Bunch is also emphasizing the competition aspect.

“Everyone gets a trophy,” he said. “Life doesn’t work that way. If you don’t win, then people quit. It’s a motivation to train and do better.”

Bunch said the move to SPIRE is to avoid potential weather issues.

“Two years ago, it looked like rain and it ended up pouring in the end and last year was about 90 degrees,” he said. “We wanted to take the weather factor out. SPIRE is a great facility.”

After receiving a scholarship to play at Michigan, Bunch was selected in the first round by the Giants in 1991. He played in the NFL for four years before retiring in 1995.

“A lot of kids have no idea there’s a first-round draft pick (No. 27 overall) that went to Ashtabula,” he said. “They may get a scholarship and a chance to play on TV, even get a scholarship to college without sports.”

Bunch said the goals for the camp is to be positive.

“We’re looking forward to people coming out, learning, competing and having fun,” he said.

It’s that same mindset that Bunch will take into his new position in leading Beverly Hills after being recently approved as the school’s varsity head coach. The last time the Normans won two games in a season was six years ago and they’ve gone 0-20 the last two.

“They’ve had some problems with their athletic program,” Bunch said. “It reminds me when I was in Ashtabula. It’s a work in progress. Part of it is the spirit. Football is played with emotion.”

Bunch coached at the junior high level in New Jersey after retiring in 1995.

“There are things that kept coming back to me that this would be good for me to do,” he said. “Instruction has always been a part of me.”

Bunch, the school’s third head coach in the last four years, is also a second-degree black belt and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor.

He has been a Beverly Hills resident since 2002 and said has already noticed a change with the team in just a brief period of time.

“The attitude has been great,” Bunch said. “We’ve had a week of practice and the kids’ attitudes are changing. The last time we won two games was three or four years ago. We want to match or better that mark.”

Bunch said the Normans have 25 to 30 players with just two seniors. He added there’s a battle to get players on the team.

“There’s a lot of private schools and the good athletes that live in the high school area, get scholarships or their parents just pay for them to go to private schools,” he said.

But regardless of how Beverly Hills fares on the field, the job for Bunch is more than just wins or losses.

“In 20 years, when they’re at their reunion, whether they’ve won one or two games, I want them to look positively on the experience they’ve had with this team,” he said.