Many miles make up Christiansburg’s Vaughn
One stat other athletes will likely have a hard time surpassing is Vaughn’s miles traveled during this quest.
Over Vaughn’s holiday break from Christiansburg Middle School, the two-way lineman will look to add even more mileage as he plans to take the field at Reliant Stadium in Houston to play in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl’s first-ever Can/Am Bowl.
The Dec. 30 game, which pits the top American middle school football players against the best players from Canada, is part of a weeklong series of events, capped by the showcasing of 88 of the country’s top high school seniors in the 7th-annual Offense-Defense All-American Bowl.
Though Vaughn will be playing in a stadium with the capacity to seat more than 70,000 people, to the seasoned 6-foot-1, 230-pound 13-year-old, it’s a football game, just like any other.
“I just enjoy them the same. I just play as hard as I can,” Vaughn said.
Since 2009, Vaughn’s mother, Angie Vaughn, estimated that her son has traveled through 22 states going to and from more than 15 football camps around the country and has traveled as far away as Dallas for the sport, where he played in last year’s Offense-Defense Youth All-American Bowl.
Over that span, summer family vacations have morphed into family football camps, Angie Vaughn said.
While Vaughn participated in camps that were four to five days long, often practicing up to three times a day, parents Angie and Chris Vaughn would perch themselves in the stands and film every minute. Following practice, the family would most often return to their hotel room to study the film and make notes of where Vaughn could improve.
“I’m learning the position, too,” Angie Vaughn said.
The family film study seems to have paid off. In June, Vaughn earned the Defensive Lineman Performance Award for his age group at the Offense-Defense Sports camp in Chicago and was selected to attend a July combine in Rhode Island to qualify for a position in the Cam/Am Bowl.
Vaughn said the combine included a variety of intense tests, including a 40-yard dash, a vertical jump and a shuttle run, during which the players were constantly under the microscope of the group of high school and college coaches selecting players to advance to the bowl game.
Again, Vaughn impressed, and on Dec. 26, he’ll leave to join his teammates from around the country for a week’s worth of practice under those same coaches in preparation to take on Canada.
Having experienced being thrown together with unknown teammates and coaches for a bowl last season, Vaughn said the limited time forces the team to quickly adjust to one another.
“It’s very fast-paced, so you have to get out [on the field] and get along,” Vaughn said.
He added that one of the most interesting aspects of such a blend of players was the mixture of accents people have from around the country, and he noted that the players from Chicago and Michigan sounded the most distinctive.
Of course, that’s not to say Vaughn didn’t sound a little different to them, as well, as Angie Vaughn pointed out.
“When we were in Chicago, we started hearing them talk about [Drake], and what we heard them start referring to him as was ‘the big boy from Virginia with the heavy country accent,’ ” Angie Vaughn said.
Accents aside, Vaughn said what he really enjoyed was the football knowledge he realized he’d picked up from other players when he returned home to play for the Blue Demons’ eighth-grade squad last year.
“I felt like I had more techniques than I did the year before. I had more skill to understand stuff, … like read the defense or offense,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn wasn’t the only person who noticed a change in his game. Christiansburg Middle School head football coach Dave Cooper said he too saw how the experience had effected the player whom he described as “first one there, last one to leave type of guys.”
Seeing he could compete and play with the top players in the country in his age group, Vaughn returned to Christiansburg much more confident as a player, Cooper said.
Vaughn said he hopes there’s even more opportunity to learn this year by squaring off with the Canadian players.
“I’m looking forward to playing different kids from a different country to see how they play football or to see what kinds of skills they have up there that I can bring back,” Vaughn said.
While new skills and experiences are two aspects Vaughn’s many miles have produced, they aren’t the only thing the lineman has enjoyed about his travels.
“You get to see all the places and eat all different kinds of food, too,” Vaughn said.
“Chicago probably had the best pizza I’ve ever had.”
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
No Comments »
No comments yet.