FAIRMONT - For the second year, students entering grades 4-8 will have an opportunity to sample various sports at Fairmont Junior-Senior High School.
Sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the junior sports clinic on Aug. 4-6 will offer soccer, basketball, tennis and track for boys and girls; volleyball for girls; and football for boys.
According to Mark "Rex" Hernes, who is coordinating the camp with Kevin Hugoson, the structure of the program allows students to try different sports and "get a little taste of each one."
The initial camp last year drew 75 students, with 20 high school athletes as "huddle" or team leaders, all under the guidance of high school coaches. This year, about 35 student athletes will be huddle leaders.
Jay Ruen, a recent Fairmont graduate - a prominent member of the Cardinal football, basketball and baseball state tournament teams this past year - was a huddle leader last year and will return to the camp this year.
"It's been really gratifying. I've had kids come up and ask me if I was going to be there again," Ruen said.
Ruen said the camp combines two things he loves: God and athletics.
"I'd have loved it when I was a kid," he said. Being a huddle leader "might be the most important thing I do for someone."
Ashten Atzenhoefer, another recent Fairmont High graduate, didn't hear about Fellowship of Christian Athletes until last year, but embraced the concept. Students can try a sport in the morning, learning the basics of play, and compete in "fun athletic competitions" in the afternoon.
These competitions are referred to as the "Dog Patch Olympics," said Anna Hernes, a senior at Fairmont High School and a huddle leader.
During the past school year, the three students attended weekly before-school gatherings with other Christian athletes. Mark Hernes and Hugoson serve as mentors for the group, but the meetings are student-led and laid back.
Most weeks drew about a dozen students, but they have had up to 30 attend.
The group touches on various topics such ways to be a good sport or how to deal with a difficult official.
Because the group is faith-based, albeit non-denominational, it is not allowed to put up posters or other material at the school, instead using word of mouth to encourage other students to participate.
Pre-registration for the junior sports clinic is encouraged and may be completed online at www.minnesotafca.org/fairmont-jsc. Cost is $45, but family discounts and scholarships are available.