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Polamalu gets started with youth camp


Sandys new football coach leads a grade school camp before starting high school practices Monday.

New Sandy football coach Joe Polamalu wasn’t exactly sure what to expect on Day 1 of the program’s youth camp last week. When he got to the field, he was completely blown away by the scene.

“It was overwhelming to see so many kids out there,” Polamalu said. “There was such a great turnout, and it was actually a challenge.”

Polamalu and his staff had 160 kids show up for the camp to receive high school-level instruction. The athletes, third-graders through eighth-graders, showed a lot of promise and gave Polamalu confidence in the future.

“It is pretty amazing. I am really impressed with the youth program here,” Polamalu said. “This is going to be a great feeder into the high school program and will be pumping in kids for a long time. The parents are so involved and anxious to help, which is great to see.”

Polamalu said the level of excitement surrounding the youth program far-exceeded the expectations he had when he took the job.

As ecstatic as Polamalu was about the youngsters, he and his assistants had to turn their attention to the high school athletes as soon as the youth camp concluded. With the season opener just a few weeks away, Polamalu has to get up to speed in a hurry.

The coaches have been able to see what their players have to offer in small doses. Polamalu has observed players in brief workout sessions and is beginning to get a sense of his personnel, but he won’t really know what he has until the team can get on the field for a full practice.

“I’m still learning names and getting to know the kids. We are really eager to get the pads on and get into a good routine,” Polamalu said. “Fortunately, most of the staff was here before and some things were already in place, which will make the transition easier.”

The biggest challenge for the staff will be replacing some keys seniors from last year’s squad. All-league quarterback Justin Adams and receivers Blake Robison and Karsten Short all graduated, so there is a great deal of offense that has to come from somewhere.

Polamalu knows the Pioneers will have to come a long way in a short time, but he is looking forward to the challenge.

Teams can officially start practicing Monday, Aug. 19. Sandy opens the season at home against Hood River Valley on Friday, Aug. 30.