Camp season begins with the Independence Bowl, NSU’s Lockett stepping up again

MASTER CLASS:  Veteran Northwestern State assistant head coach DeVon Lockett has worked all 11 Independence Bowl youth camps and now his own children are participating, while he helps coach young coaches working the camp. 

By JERRY BYRD JR., Journal Sports

If Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, the first Saturday in June is the unofficial start of the summer camp season in the Ark-La-Tex. This past Saturday the 11th Annual Independence Bowl Youth Football Clinic helped to kick off the summer football fun for kids.

A solid turnout of 225 kids were registered for the free camp which took place at Independence Stadium from 8-11 a.m.

“When we first started this camp, this was the only camp here,” said Missy Setters, Executive Director of the Independence Bowl. “Now, you have a camp almost every single weekend for these kids, and that’s awesome. That is one of the things we were hoping to cultivate. It’s great to see all of these former players from this area come back and do these camps.”

Setters and her staff bring in college coaches from surrounding programs, assuring top calber instruction since the clinic first began. Recently, it has especially been nice to add two new local college football programs,  Southern University of Shreveport and Centenary College.

“We have a great group of volunteers from the Independence Bowl Foundation and Barksdale, who come every year along with our college coaches,” Setters said. 

One coach who has worked the clinic since it started is Northwestern State Assistant Head Coach/Cornerbacks Coach Devon Lockett. 

“Northwestern is a big community thing,” Lockett said. “It’s local for us being at Northwestern State and we want to make sure we cover this area. So, it’s always beneficial that I’m here. I’ve been doing this for a long time now. I’m fortunate now that my kids are old enough so they are participating as well. They were excited about it. We just want to make sure that we cover Shreveport-Bossier the right way.”

On a field where Northwestern State and Louisiana Tech were bitter rivals during the old State Fair Games, Lockett worked with a couple of younger graduate assistants from Tech, teaching kids how to take the proper angle and tackle properly using the help of the “donut,” or tackle wheel. 

Serving at different camps during the summer gives Lockett the opportunity to work not only with campers, but also young coaches, many who are just starting in the profession. 

 “A lot of these coaches are younger coaches who are just getting into the game. I’m like the veteran out here. It’s good to explore their minds and say ‘hey, come up with a drill.’ Right here, you’re not a student assistant, you’re not a graduate assistant, you’re not a quality control guy, you’re a coach today, so coach your guys up. Coach your position.”

When he is asked, Lockett has advice to pass along to the younger coaches.

“Learn everything,” Lockett said. “Don’t be afraid to spend extra time with full-time coaches. Learn everything you can learn. Whether its X’s and O’s or recruiting or logistics of running a program the ins and outs of the organization daily, all of those things are going to be beneficial at some point in your career. Whether you decide to stay here (college coaching), go to high school, or make it to the NFL, you can bring value to yourself that way.”

Lockett wasn’t the only connection with Northwestern State at the Independence Bowl Youth Clinic. Former Demon quarterback Stan Powell, a proud Huntington grad, had his grandson, Jackson Stanley Powell, who recently graduated from pre-school, going through the paces at Independence Stadium with DI’s Matt Merry. 

The Independence Bowl staff will now turn its attention to the organization’s annual Kickoff  Luncheon. 

“Once we move through this, we start planning our Kickoff Luncheon, and then we move into bowl week and game mode now that we have our game date,” said Setters.

The 46th annual Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl will kick off on the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 23.