Seahawks set up camp in North Kitsap

William Lester, 12, practices a ball-carrying drill during the Gatorade Junior Training camp Monday at the North Kitsap Stadium, while Seahawks fullback Owen Schmitt looks on. - Brian J. Olson/Staff photo
William Lester, 12, practices a ball-carrying drill during the Gatorade Junior Training camp Monday at the North Kitsap Stadium, while Seahawks fullback Owen Schmitt looks on.
— image credit: Brian J. Olson/Staff photo

POULSBO — North Kitsap graduate and current Seattle Seahawks running backs coach Kasey Dunn returned to his old stomping grounds Monday with a couple of pro football players in tow.

Seahawks fullback Owen Schmitt and tailback Justin Forsett joined Dunn and about 200 local kids Monday at the North Kitsap Stadium for a football clinic put on by Gatorade Junior Training Camps.

“It’s a good opportunity, and the timing was right to do something back here in the home town,” Dunn said.

The camp was open to kids ages 8-14 and packed to capacity with young players from all over Kitsap County and beyond, eager to receive instruction from the pros as well as a handful of high school and college players and coaches. After the camp wrapped up, the Seahawks crew presented former North Kitsap Head Football Coach Jerry Parrish and current Head Coach Steve Frease with a 12th Man flag to commemorate the event.

Kids attending the free camp practiced basic skills like passing, ball handling and footwork, and had the chance to receive autographs from the Seahawk players afterward.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said 13-year-old Blake Uddenberg, who made the trip to Poulsbo from Gig Harbor for the camp. “I really liked learning agility and the techniques and basics, and just making myself better.”

Dunn, who graduated from North Kitsap High School in 1987, spent four years setting records as a wide receiver at the University of Idaho before beginning his coaching career. At the time of his college graduation, Dunn’s marks for career receptions and receiving yards were second only to Jerry Rice in Division I-AA football.

“He turned out to be one of the best athletes we’ve had,” Parrish said. “He’s a really good ambassador for the school.”

After nearly two decades of coaching at various universities throughout the United States, Dunn landed back in the Puget Sound region last year when former Seahawks Head Coach Mike Holmgren asked him to coach Seattle's running backs. Right away, Dunn began looking for ways to reach out to Kitsap youth.

Dunn approached Ryan Madayag, Fan Development Manager for the Seahawks, in hopes of taking Seattle football across the Puget Sound.

Madayag told Dunn about the Gatorade camps, which normally take place at Qwest Field and at parks in Renton and Spokane, and the two worked on a plan to bring the Gatorade camp to Poulsbo.

“To bring Coach Dunn back to North Kitsap was important,” Madayag said. “He was very excited. He would come up and touch base with me to see how many kids had signed up.”

Dunn, whose two daughters attended the camp, oversaw the morning’s activities while the North Kitsap and Seattle players got some coaching practice with the kids. Forsett, a second-year player out of the University of California, Berkeley, said he felt blessed to have the chance to work with the young players.

“I wasn’t fortunate enough to have anything like this. That’s why it’s important,” Forsett said of the camp. “I know that if I’d had something like this, it would have meant the world to me.”

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