Former local football stars Dalvin Warmack, Sima Thomas 'have fun' helping with youth football camp

By Bill Althaus
The Examiner
Blue Springs graduate and former Kansas State running back Dalvin Warmack works with kids in the Speed & Sport Youth Football Camp Tuesday at the Independence Athletic Complex. The two-time Simone Award winner said "it was a night I'll always remember."

As the first Speed & Sport Youth Football camp came to an end, camp director and former Blue Springs two-time state champion and two-time Simone Award winner Dalvin Warmack got a surprise.

Many of the 78 campers – ages 6 through 14 – came up, shook his hand and thanked him and his staff for taking time to work with them at the camp, which runs Tuesday and Wednesday at the Independence Athletic Complex. 

"Man, that gave me the chills, made me feel so good, like back in the day at Blue Springs when we would practice and it was like working with your family – the best feeling ever," said Warmack, who played a big role in back-to-back state championships for the Wildcats in 2012 and 2013 before going on to play football at Kansas State. 

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NO SURPRISES

"This is what it's all about, working with the youngsters who are interested in football. We didn't have many camps when I was their age, and I've been involved in many elite camps for older players, but this was the first time I've been involved in youth camps back out in Eastern Jackson County. 

“And it was a night I'll always remember." 

Elijah Penamon, the owner of Speed & Sport Training, hosted the camp and reached out to Warmack and his former Fort Osage High School teammate Sima Thomas, a former Examiner Defensive Player of the Year who starred along with Penamon on the Indians' 2015 state championship team.

"The most important thing to me is that the campers had fun, and they learned a lot about football while they were having fun," Penamon said. "And I know Dalvin and Sima and the other instructors were having as much fun as the kids." 

Fort Osage graduate Sima Thomas, a former All-American defensive lineman with Pittsburg State, works with a young participant in the Speed & Sport Youth Football Camp Tuesday at the Independence Athletic Complex. Thomas helped out at the camp run by his teammate on the 2015 Fort Osage state championship team, Elijah Penamon.

Thomas, who earned NCAA Division II All-America honors as a defensive lineman at Pittsburg State University, was struck by the participants’ eagerness to learn. 

"The kids had fun, I had fun and they worked hard and learned about the game," said Thomas, who is now working as a trainer at the Do Work Factory 2.0 in Independence. "After practice, one little kid came up to me and said, 'I really like that drill where we tackle the doughnut (a large ring the kids tackle after Thomas spins it on the field). Can I go out and work some more?' That's a coach's dream to hear a player say something like that. This was a great camp, because there was never a time when the campers weren't busy – and we had a lot of kids and that shows how well run the camp was." 

Fort Osage graduate Sima Thomas, a former All-American defensive lineman with Pittsburg State, works with a young participant on tackling the "doughnut" in the Speed & Sport Youth Football Camp Tuesday at the Independence Athletic Complex. Thomas helped out at the camp run by his teammate on the 2015 Fort Osage state championship team, Elijah Penamon.

Two of the most enthusiastic campers were 12-year-old Isaako Mamaeula and 9-year-old Jake Johnson. 

"I learned how to run faster," said Johnson, who was ready to go with his cleats and gloves. "We ran a lot and that was good. And I learned about tackling, too, and that was fun." 

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Added Mamaeula: "I play offensive live and I learned about offensive line and defensive line. I learned a lot, got to tackle the doughnut and had a lot of fun." 

Fun seemed to be the mantra at the camp, which was music to Warmack's ears. 

"We wanted the campers to have fun, and I think they did," said Warmack, who is now coaching running backs at St. Pius X High School in Kansas City. "We kept them busy, taught them about football and we all had fun."