Woodstock football coach Budde said it was business as usual for the San Francisco 49ers fullback and the children, who were excited to interact with an NFL player. When the campers, rising into grades 1-8, were given the chance to ask Miller questions, Budde said many showed what mattered the most.
“The first question asked was, ‘Bruce, do you remember me from last year?’” Budde said. “That meant everything to that kid. It wasn’t about, ‘What does it take to get to the NFL?’ or anything like that. The kids are out there having fun and working hard, and that always makes it so rewarding.”
Budde said other questions included asking Miller for his gloves, and why the 49ers beat the hometown Atlanta Falcons in the 2013 NFC championship game and kept them from going to the Super Bowl.
The three-day camp, which ended Wednesday, was hit with showers Tuesday, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the campers, who seemed to play even harder through a downpour.
“They didn’t even blink an eye,” Budde said. “They just kept right on playing. I think they enjoyed it more.”
Woodstock hosted a youth camp for several years under former coach Mike O’Brien, but the tradition faded after his retirement. In 2013, Budde decided to bring it back and reached out to Miller.
It’s been a hit the first two times, and Budde said Miller is already talking about participating again next summer.
“That’s just the way Bruce has always been,” said Budde, who was an assistant to O’Brien when Miller played for the Woodstock football team. “It’s nice to have him back on campus, and our players and the little kids get to see him, and he loves it, too. It’s a reminder, for him, of where he started at, and the love for the game. I think it’s a little rejuvenating for him as well.”
Budde said the camp is good for the adults, too, since it reminds them what it’s like to play for the love of the game.
“It’s about playing football, and the kids are just refreshing to be around,” Budde said. “When you throw Bruce Miller out there, these kids just love being around an NFL player. It’s a good reminder of why you started playing the game, because you loved it and it was a lot of fun. You had dreams of making it to the NFL.”
While many of the children attended the camp to play football, learn new things and meet an NFL player, Budde said his motivation is the children.
“I want to give back to the game,” Budde said. “That is what motivates me to put on a kids’ camp like this. I mean, football has done so much for me. I went into coaching football, but even if I hadn’t gone into coaching football, the game did so much for me. I just try to give back to the game and our community.”