Former Eagles kicker Akers holds special kicking clinic during 570 Camp at Lehighton
Former Eagles kick David Akers signs autographs for campers participating in the kicking clinic during the 570 Football Camp at Lehighton High School. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app for a video. PATRICK MATSINKO/TIMES NEWS
They were the moments David Akers would never forget.
Long before he was an All-Pro kicker for the Philadelphia Eagles, Akers was simply trying to find his footing in the National Football League.
He was far from a household name – and anything but established.
But Akers produced a career that spanned 16 seasons – 12 of which were with the Eagles – and generated six Pro Bowl appearances.
His success didn’t come overnight, and he remembered vividly those who went out of their way to help him become a two-time All-Pro.
Akers had a chance to return the favor on Friday at the 570 Football Camp.
“I had guys that were able to give me insight when they didn’t have to,” said Akers. “And so this is an opportunity to kind of do that same thing for the next generation.”
The third and final day of the camp featured Akers and a kicking clinic at Lehighton Area High School, an opportunity he relished.
“I love it,” said Akers, who played in Super Bowl XXXIX with the Eagles. “We’ve partnered together with St. Luke’s, along with 570 Sports, and that brings me back to the area that I spent over a year of my life in the Lehigh Valley, just for training camp.
“So it’s funny because a lot of these kids weren’t even really born when I was trying to make it. A lot of them are just kind of learning the ropes of kicking, learning the technique, being able just to kind of coach themselves after. That’s kind of the day’s (goal): learn the fundamentals, and some things that they can build upon going forward.”
Akers, along with former NFL punter and ESU graduate Ken Parrish, spent more than three hours with campers, going over fundamentals and technique.
“I generally like to only coach one-one-one, because everybody is a little different,” said Akers, who noted he wasn’t demonstrating because of a torn calf muscle. “Everybody has their own swing, their own style. So you can really say, you’re really doing great on this; let’s critique this; let’s make some changes here.
“And so when you get a group of 20-or-so kids, it’s hard to really focus in that time. Fortunately, with (camp director) Brian Mitchell, and with Ken Parrish – Ken Parrish is a pro – you have great knowledge with the coaches here, and so we were able to divvy up, and keep circling around, and I think the kids learned a lot, and they had a little fun with the competition at the end.”
The camp was instructional for more than just the kids.
“From a coach’s perspective, to have one of your guys involved, it’s great to be able to get this kind of instruction,” said Lehighton head coach Tom McCarroll. “Because the reality of it is, there’s not many true kicking instructors around. I’ll be the first to tell you, I don’t know the first thing about the mechanics of kicking, and that’s certainly one of my weaknesses as a coach, and I’ll be the first to admit that.
“So when you get, not only someone who is an expert but an absolute professional, an All-Pro, the whole deal, you can’t miss that opportunity. So to have the kids show up, and certainly a kid from our program to get that kind of instruction is really, I think, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of deal. I don’t know if we’ll be fortunate to have it here again. But at the end of the day, to have somebody of that caliber come into our area, it just speaks volumes.”
It was also a showcase for Lehighton and its multipurpose stadium.
After hosting state playoff games throughout the fall, the facility has continued to get rave reviews, and Friday was another opportunity to show its seemingly unlimited potential to draw marquee events to the area.
“It’s fantastic,” said Lehighton Director of Student Services and Facilities Planning Kyle Spotts. “Just to have the opportunity to team with the 570 Clinics and to have the ... opportunity to bring David Akers (here) is phenomenal, and I think it speaks to the facility.
“Every year, it seems like we’ve taken on something new. This past fall, we had the state football playoff games, we had state soccer here, and now we have a kicking clinic, so anything that we can do ... is great, and hopefully, anytime you can host an event like this and showcase the facility, the area, bring people here – there were kids here from out of the state; they’re three hours away – it brings people to the area, and I think that’s all you can ask for. It’s a showcase, it’s an opportunity, and I think anytime that opportunity presents itself, and it’s with a good group like 570, it’s a no-brainer.”