BOUNTIFUL — Over 500 football prospects took part in this year's All Poly Camp, which dubs itself as "the No. 1 non-institutional camp in America."
The camp concludes Saturday with the participants having undergone top instruction of how to not only succeed in football, but in life.
Camp director Alema Te'o is now in his 13th year running the three-day camp which consistently attracts top regional talent along with top local coaches. Most of the coaches from BYU, Utah, Utah State, and Weber State provided much of the football instruction while evaluating the participants.
"When we first started we were lucky to get one and maybe two coaches from the local colleges out here, but now we're getting almost everyone, which is great," said Te'o. "It's a huge thing for the kids to know that they'll be taught and seen by the top schools in our state and other coaches from out-of-state."
The staff all wore shirts with the No. 55 emblazoned on the back, honoring the passing of Polynesian gridiron pioneer Junior Seau. The former San Diego Charger was the first Polynesian superstar and someone looked up to by all in the Polynesian community.
"He meant so much to our community and established a standard and a work ethic that our kids should work to achieve," said Te'o. "We don't know everything that went into the final days before his passing, but we do know that it was important for us to honor his memory and recognize all his contributions and for the example he was."
Indeed, one of the two credos since the camp's inception is to "respect the past."
The participants took part in a number of position drills along with some teamwork. In between the football instruction were lectures and instruction on how to get to the next level — college.
"Football is just a means to get to college for most of these young kids," said Te'o. "Some of these kids will be lucky enough to make a living playing football, but even those kids need to understand that they can't play football forever. They're all going to get old like me and need to have something to fall back to earn a living."
The desire of Te'o and his staff is to reach as many young men as possible in hopes of affecting individual lives and communities for the better.
While Utah will always be the home for the camp, Te'o has branched out to Hawaii (at McKinley High School in Honolulu next week) and Texas (at Trinity High School in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in July).
Fotu Katoa, who has worked with Te'o since the camp began, was the first Polynesian to play at Trinity High and has been pushing for the move for some time.
"We're finally going to Texas and we're excited about it," said Te'o. "It's just another opportunity to reach more kids, which is the goal of the All-Poly camp."
Another goal of the camp is to continually improve with every year. Te'o and his staff undergo a thorough evaluation of themselves after each year and then spend the entire year between camps to make those improvements.
"We ask these kids to improve their lives, so we feel that it's very important for us to improve our own instruction with every year," said Te'o. "We're happy with where we are and what we've become, but we're not satisfied — we're never satisfied and that's important."