ABOUT SUMMER CAMP: Garth Brooks helped launch Win The Day camp series

HAPPY CAMPERS:  Counselors and some campers obviously had a blast at last Saturday’s Bossier Speed Camp, part of the Win The Day Foundation’s initiative to support local youth.

By JERRY BYRD JR., Journal Sports

Third in a series

If Win The Day Foundation’s Ronnie Coker and Jason Brotherton needed any evidence that their summer camp series concept was working or not, they needed to look no further than the faces of the campers assembled for the Bossier High School Speed Camp last weekend. In the crowd, they saw a couple of repeat customers.

“That’s what I told Coach Coker,” said Brotherton, the Haughton head football coach and Win The Day Camp director.  “After the first camp at Haughton, I guess about an hour after that, I started getting registrations from kids who had been at our camp wanting to go to other camps so I said that there is your validation that something we’re doing is right. The kids are having a great time.”

And the camp director is having a great time as well, especially at the Bossier Speed Camp, where two Haughton Buccaneers – Coach Drake Smith and former Northwestern State sprint All-American Micah Larkins – were the lead instructors.

“They’re the experts,” Brotherton said. “For me, it’s really neat. I’ve had the chance to work alongside Drake. He coaches my daughter now so I know his expertise. For Micah, I coached him in high school. So to invite him back, and now he is the expert teaching the teacher things, means a lot to me. Those guys are special to me.”

Brotherton said that Smith and Larkins were his first calls and both jumped at the opportunity to serve. 

Coker got into the camping business a few years ago when Garth Brooks came to Shreveport-Bossier, and his people reached out to Coker, who was the athletic director at Airline High School at the time. Garth – who threw the javelin for Oklahoma State 40 years ago — wanted to engage local kids.

“I was skeptical at first,” Coker said. “It was a 10. Garth came out on the final day. He was a rock star. He is such a humble guy. And that’s where it started from, ’cause I saw him giving back to the community, and sports has given me so much. Basically, everything I’ve got. We just wanted to find a way to do it.”

It wasn’t until April 2021, when Coker was diagnosed with cancer, that “win the day” started to mean something a little more.

“So when I was diagnosed with cancer last April, I was thinking, ‘All right God, I know what you are telling me now,’” Coker said. “I thought, ‘Let’s go. Let’s play every day like it’s our last. We want to swing for the fences every day.’” 

When Jennie Chatagneir discovered that her former teacher at Parkway High School was having a camp, she wanted her kids to be a part of it. Rising gas prices didn’t stop Chatagneir from driving over four hours north from Houma so her kids could take part.

“I remember that Coach Coker puts his heart and soul into everything he does,” Chatagneir said. “I knew it was something that I wanted my kids to experience. It was worth the drive.”

To find out more about Win The Day Summer Camps go to www.wintheday.org and click on the CAMPS tab at the top of the homepage. There are a few spots left for the Win The Day Football Camp at Calvary on Monday. 

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