An overnight camp held at on Monday for the football team featured a squad full of players hungry to repeat as league and district champs this fall.
The event, however, had very little to do with football.
It was the second annual virtue camp, which was designed by the team’s coaching staff to help the high school players continue developing strong personal character as they head into adulthood, as well as to bond with one other.
For the Bears, the day involved listening to guest speakers, team-building exercises, a visit to , playing games during free time, and sharing thoughts around a bonfire. They also were scheduled to sleep overnight on their field.
The four guest speakers were Dr. David Wolf, a Trenton-based gynecologist; Chief Dan Grant; Jim Rockwell; and Wayne State University offensive line coach Terry Heffernan, who was a last-minute replacement for WSU head coach Paul Winters.
Each told an inspirational story, focusing on a specific virtue theme. Wolf and Rockwell both talked of surviving serious accidents, with Wolf basing his speech on the virtue of “tough,” while Rockwell’s centered on “grateful.”
Grant related his present and his past positions in law enforcement to the virtue concept of “loyal.” and how it related to WSU’s trip to the last season, following the murder of team member Cortez Smith.
“Our team was crushed,” Heffernan said of the murder. “It knocked the breath out of you to think of how quickly things can be snatched away from you. We were able to rally around the memory of Cortez and the concept of being a better person while you’re here.”
Adams said virtue concepts are consistently taught to the team by the coaches, but he feels the young men on his squad can still benefit from hearing it from another source.
“Coming from somebody else, you just never know when it’s going to connect,” Adams said.
Adams first began the virtue program last year at Roosevelt and designed it to help the teenage boys on his team properly transition into manhood. It kicked off with the camp and involved performing community service, as well as focusing on one particular virtue each week of the season, such as respectful, bold and responsible.
The information learned during Monday’s virtue camp presentations is beneficial to the Bears and can help the team succeed this year, said team co-captain Joe Filipiak.
“I’ve learned a lot from the four speakers that I’ve had the pleasure of hearing today and I have the feeling that this is really going to help not only me, but my team, in the long run.”
Wyandotte assistant coach Bill Sweet said holding something such as a virtue camp is valuable to young athletes, as it not only develops skills for adulthood, it can create a winning environment in the present for a team.
“It’s huge, it’s immeasurable,” said Sweet of teaching virtues to athletes. "Not only is it good in the long run for them, but even from an on-field perspective, it’s one of the reasons we’re successful.”