VHS football helps nurture father-son relationships

The Vandegrift football team hosted a senior father/son campout on Aug. 18 at Brigham Double Horn Ranch.

By ZACH SMITH, Hill Country News

Vandegrift takes the idea very seriously that football is about more than just what happens on the field.

The Vipers held their seventh annual senior/dad campout on the afternoon of Aug. 18 at the Brigham Double Horn Ranch just south of Marble Falls to grow off-field connections of senior players and the men they cherish most.

“It’s powerful because it’s not anything like what you’d expect in a football program,” Joe Brod said. “What they do here has nothing to do with playing time or wins and losses, it’s all about you and your son. It’s a fantastic perspective to have.”

At the event, the guys had a washers tournament, had some free time to play shuffleboard and go to the creek to fish. They also had multiple sessions in which they got to know each other on a deeper level.

Vandegrift head coach Drew Sanders said he first got the idea from a school in Arkansas. Seniors are also able to invite their brothers, uncles, favorite teachers or any man important to them in life.

The last session had the men and students split up and write letters to each other.

“I’ve been involved in football since I was a little kid and I’ve never been a part of something like this,” Scott Schaffner said. “It speaks to the kind of program Drew Sanders has built here. They’ve had tremendous success on the field, but it goes so far beyond that.”

The gathering started in before the 2012 season and used to be held south of the high school on City Park Rd. before the Brigham family, who had multiple kids play sports for the Vipers, offered to host it.

Schaffner said it’s nice to not only be around his son’s friends but hang out with a bunch of really great dads as well.  

“It’s amazing, and especially as they’re teenagers and you find an opportunity to connect and put the phones away and spend a day and just talk about life,” Schaffner said. “You can relate to them on a different level. It’s a unique opportunity to sit and reflect on things you don’t normally get a chance to talk about.”

Sanders is the only coach Vandegrift has had since the school opened in 2009 and the Vipers have made it to the playoffs in all but two seasons since their first UIL-sanctioned season in 2010.

Brod has been to the event before and said Sanders does a great job creating a balance in the crazy world of Texas high school football since the staff sees the kids almost as much as the parents do in the fall.

“You can lose externally to other teams, but you can also lose internally by losing the community and families and the trust of the players,” Brod said. “This goes straight to building the trust of the players whose kids they coach and see every day.”

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Joe Brod attended the Vandegrift football father/son campout with his son, Ben, and said it’s a unique event for a football program.

Fathers and their senior sons of the Vandegrift football team participated in the annual father/son campout.

The annual father-son retreat featured a washers tournament, shuffleboard and fishing at the creek.

Vandegrift fathers and sons listed to a speaker and wrote a letter to exchange with one another at the end of the retreat.