Clemens and campers have summertime football fun

Kellen Clemens motivates the 12 winning youth football players before running through drills at the DeSales Football field.

Kellen Clemens motivates the 12 winning youth football players before running through drills at the DeSales Football field. Photo by Michael Lopez.

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WALLA WALLA — After completing the most successful season of his nine-year NFL career, quarterback Kellen Clemens welcomed the slow pace of the offseason.

Clemens, an Oregon Duck who spends the offseason in Walla Walla along with his wife and children, took to the DeSales football field on Tuesday to run 12 young players through a two-hour camp, which was purchased through a school auction.

“Sports, to me, are more of a metaphor for life,” Clemens said. “I have learned a ton of stuff through playing sports that you can apply to every facet of your life. Today it’s going to be hard work, discipline and being a positive role model.”

The camp focused on wide receivers and quarterbacks, starting with agility drills to teach footwork and quickness. From there, the campers talked with Clemens about specific techniques to use on the gridiron.

The camp ended on a high note, however, as campers got the chance to snag passes from a professional QB.

“Then I’ll grab a ball and they can holler whatever route they want and I’ll throw,” he said.

Clemens, who moved to the area more than four years ago, said the camp is a good opportunity to give back to the community.

“We’re very fortunate to be here,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate in how the families we’ve met here have been so welcoming. It’s been really good for us.”

Clemens and his wife, Nicole, both grew up in the Northwest, but had never been to Walla Walla. Yet, after spending a few days in the area nearly five years ago, Clemens knew it would be a good place to unwind in the offseason.

“It’s definitely a much slower pace, which fits us,” Clemens said. “That slower pace is our roots. That’s good for us.”

With three young kids of his own — ages 6, 5 and 18 months — Clemens said the summer allows him time to focus on family.

And with his 6-year-old starting to play football, Clemens may find himself on the sideline when his playing days are done.

“I’ve got a son who at this point loves football,” Clemens said. “I don’t push him one way or the other. My dad always coached everything — whether he knew it or not — he coached everything. I know that was really good for me, so I would hope to be able to pass that along to my son at some point.”

After posting career-highs in passing yards (1,673) and touchdowns (8) with St. Louis last season, Clemens signed a two-year, $3 million deal with San Diego in the offseason.

The Chargers wrapped up organized team activities more than a week ago and, with training camp opening on July 23, Clemens is focused on adapting a new situation.

“It’ll definitely be in a backup role,” Clemens said. “The big emphasis right now is becoming more and more comfortable in the system. It’s a new scheme, it’s new terminology, it’s a new style of coaching down there than what I’ve had the past couple of years in St. Louis.”

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