By Venise Grossmann
The trouble that teenage boys can get into is an ongoing concern for parents, but approximately ten percent of West Deptford parents are doing their best to insurance that their sons stay on the right path and become strong, disciplined winners. They are making the choice to enroll their sons in the West Deptford High School football program.
For the boys who choose this path, it’s no easy walk on the field. For many, it’s a yearlong commitment. Most take part in the off-season weight-training program from December to August. Spring football training lasts for four days in June. Head Coach Folsom also offers two summer camps—the National Offense Camp in June for four days and a Seven on Seven Passing League camp on Tuesday and Thursday nights in July. His two-week mandatory preseason camp runs in August. The words “Selfless, Accountable, and Mentally Tough” are printed on the camp t-shirts.
During this time, these young men learn life skills. Under Folsom’s leadership, the young men learn to establish a work ethic, deal with adversity, and enhance their character. Other benefits include becoming fit, confident and developing life long friends.
The boys also need to learn how to handle success. Since Clyde Folsom has taken over the reigns as head football coach in 1990, he had led the team to six state championships and 12 Colonial Conference titles. His current record stands at 210-66-5.
“Coach Folsom knows exactly how to motivate us. He picks us up when we are down, reassures us when we’re uncertain, and celebrates with us when we succeed,” says senior Alex Hilbmann.
Julian Downing, senior offensive lineman, concurs, “His fatherly presence inspires his players to become disciplined young men who will succeed in life after their tenure in West Deptford football is over.”
Senior Gerald Owens believes that football is what has made him into the man he is today. “Football has taught me disciple. I now believe that anything can be achieved with hard work and dedication.”
The football program has had an impressive impact on the community. An average game draws 1,500 fans. On a big game day against Woodbury, Paulsboro or Haddonfield crowds can swell to 3,000-5,000.
Folsom attributes his success not only to the support of his eight assistant coaches and the administration, but also to the parents: “In addition to fundraising for our banquet and scholarships to camps, the parents provide weekly team dinners and a continental breakfast the morning after the game.”
The biggest success story, according to Folsom is when undersized and unskilled players develop into productive starters such as this year’s Ryan Hempsey. Two to three students a year also earn college scholarships and financial assistance.
A future goal of Folsom’s is to improve the academic standards of his players. He and his assistant coaches will provide tutoring to the players for 45 minutes before practice begins.
Those interested in becoming part of the West Deptford football program can begin by taking part in the township and Middle School feeder programs. Often his graduate players come back to coach in the youth programs or to mentor present players in the high school.
Venise Grossmann has been teaching English at West Deptford High School for the past 26 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.