June 27, 2009
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
JOE SUNNEN - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
It was hard to tell who was having more fun at the inaugural Michael Koenen Sportsfest, the horde of kids running around trying to catch Koenen as a he darted and dashed away from would-be tacklers, or the Atlanta Falcons standout punter himself.
It's safe to say that even when Koenen dropped a touchdown pass into the awaiting arms of a young camper during the scrimmage portion of the event, even the defense was smiling.
"Anytime you can get out here, get some kids running around and playing some football, it's a good thing," Koenen said. "I know I'm having a good time for sure."
Around 40 first through eighth graders from around Whatcom County showed up on Saturday, June 27, at Ferndale High School for the free football and cheer camp sponsored by the NFL Youth Football fund and put on by Koenen.
The former Ferndale and Western Washington University star is hoping the camp becomes a regular occurrence for kids in the area.
"We're still looking into exactly when to hold it next time, but I know it's something I'd like to be able to do every year," Koenen said. "It might be something we try to do a little earlier just to make sure more kids are around to take part. I'd like to see 150 to 200 kids out here."
Koenen also enlisted some help from a few of his friends for the camp. Among the coaching staff was Atlanta Falcons long snapper Boone Stutz, former Ferndale standout and current University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker, longtime WWU assistant coach Terry Todd, and another former Viking, Rob White.
The football campers learned some of the fundamentals of punting and kicking from Koenen, quarterback play from Locker, running back skills from Todd and tackling techniques from Stutz and White.
A 45-minute scrimmage saw players catching passes from Locker, Stutz, and Koenen while parents snapped photos and cheered on their kids. After the scrimmage, the players watched a cheer routine put on by other campers and then a punting demonstration by Koenen.
"A lot of people took the time to help me out along the way, so I am just happy I was able to return that favor," Koenen said. "Even if only four kids showed up, this would have been worth it to me."
Koenen said he'll be spending a few more weeks in Whatcom County before getting back to Atlanta to prepare for training camp at the end of July. If that wasn't enough to keep him busy, he's also a new father. He and his wife, former WWU and Nooksack Valley standout Devin Dykstra, have a 10-month-old boy.
"Being a father is awesome," Koenen said.