Ashtabula grad Bunch returns to county for camp June 22

Ashtabula High School graduate Jarod Bunch conducts his FUNdamentals Football Camp last June at SPIRE Institute in Harpersfield Township. This year’s camp is scheduled for June 22 at Spire.

HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — For the seventh year, Jarrod Bunch is coming back to the county to hold a football camp for youth players, in partnership with USA Football.

The Ashtabula High School graduate and former National Football League player will conduct the camp from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. June 22 at Spire Institute.

Registration is from 8:15-8:45 a.m. The camp is free for children ages 7-13.

Online registration is still available at www.usafootball.com/fun.

Bunch said there have been less than 100 sign-ups, but is encouraging potential participants to register online.

“The amount we get to sign up affects how much support we receive,” he said. “We need to have the registration before the camp. It’s important to sign up and show up.”

Bunch said last year nearly 200 registered and around 100 showed up.

“There’s still time to sign up,” he said.

There’s also an opportunity to participate on the morning of June 22.

David Moody, the local Ohio contact for the Bunch youth football camp, said this is a great opportunity for the youth to learn from Bunch, who played for the New York Giants and Los Angeles Raiders, and other instructors.

“Jarrod is very supportive of the youth and giving back to the community who supported him,” Moody said. “He comes from a good Christian home. This is something positive. There is hope if you want to work at it.”

The event is designed to introduce children to football by teaching basic skills in an exciting and energetic environment and is supported through a grant from the NFL Foundation. FUNdamentals incorporates a series of drills to teach passing, catching and running skills in a non-contact setting.

All skills and drills selected are based on USA Football’s Player Progression Development Model, ensuring children are learning in an age-appropriate manner, based on their cognitive and physical maturity.

Bunch said the camp will run the same as in the past. 

“We’re trying to do this every year so the kids can measure their progress and get into the habit of always trying to improve,” Bunch said.

Moody said the financial support has been crucial in keeping the event free.

“We’ve been thankful to the sponsors who have come on board,” he said.

Another benefit is having the use of the Spire facility.

“They’re great to work with,” Moody said. “There’s the opportunity go inside if it rains, like last year.”

Moody and Bunch said they’ve been in contact with the local youth leagues.

“(Lakeside Athletic Director) Jason (Baxter) was a student of mine at Bowling Green State University and we’ve recently reconnected,” Moody said. “The district has been supportive. The Painesville District has been supportive. Last year, they bussed 30 kids over.”

This year, Bunch, a former University of Michigan player, is raffling off a pair of tickets to the Wolverines-Notre Dame (Oct. 26) and Michigan-Ohio State (Nov. 30) games in Ann Arbor this season.

Bunch, a Beverly Hills, California resident, is also in his second season of coaching the Beverly Hills High School football team.

Last season, the Normans went 2-8. It’s the first time Beverly Hills won two games in a single season in 10 years.

“High school football is going through a transition,” Bunch said. “It’s rough. We’re starting our summer program. We’re still battling to get kids out. Last year, we had 22 kids from freshmen to seniors.”

Before that season happens, Bunch’s main objective is to give back to his hometown — a place that helped shape who he is and what he has become.

“I would hope Ashtabula would support to build a program at this age,” he said. “I’m the product of things I never have had a chance to do had it not been for football.”