There is no I in team but there is plenty of heat.
The Port St. Joe Tiger Shark football team experienced the warmth last week during a three-day camp in Marianna held during a blistering week; one of the hottest in Marianna for the time of year.
The Tiger Sharks carried 35 varsity and junior varsity players to Marianna to attend a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp that promoted team concepts on the field and lessons of faith off.
Port St. Joe was one of 10 teams that participated, all Class 1A schools save for Wakulla. There was regional representation, from Bozeman and Blountstown to Mayo Lafayette.
The meat of the camp was the opportunity to scrimmage, in pads, helmets and shorts, against every other team.
Port St. Joe scrimmaged nine teams, skipping only larger-school Wakulla.
Teams scrimmaged 30 minutes, in eight-, seven-, six-play sequences, rotating offense and defense.
“The team just runs around and learns to work together,” said Coach John Palmer, who is returning to Port St. Joe, where he coached seven years, after five years at Hernando High.
The action is at full speed with hitting, though no tackling – at least that is the goal.
“We did have one or two that tackled, other teams did too, but that quickly stopped,” said Palmer with a laugh. “But we hit and it was hot.”
The summer camp was a first for the football team in several years, said Coach Chuck Gannon, who retired from the school district but returns as defensive coordinator on a volunteer basis.
“It is a team-building camp,” Palmer said. “The format is designed to get team time in, to work the kids.
“This was a good opportunity to see our kids. We have an idea of what we need to work on and coming into (fall practice) gives us an idea of what we have. It was good camp for the players.”
“And the coaches,” Gannon added. “We haven’t done something like that in a few years.”
Palmer said the camp represented a teaching tool.
Using the basic playbook from each side of the ball, coaches were able to see players against other teams, including those like Bozeman and Blountstown that are on the upcoming regular season schedule.
“You had a lot of time to coach,” Palmer said.
And for the players to understand, to comprehend basics and to practice what could make them perfect in the fall.
“The kids learn by doing,” Palmer said. “We are in a work phase and we have a lot of work to do.”
And after each day of work, the players and coaches retired to what, judging by the looks on the faces of Palmer and Gannon, was modest housing that included few amenities beyond a bed and a roof.
The camp, including transportation, was paid for out of donations, Palmer said.
The players also held a work day to raise money.
“They had raised money or the community donated the money,” Palmer said. “We had a lot of community support and we thank the community for that. Without them we could not have gone.
“And it was a good experience. A good camp for the kids.”
Practice for the upcoming season begins Aug. 4.
The Tiger Sharks will host Blountstown in a Kickoff Classic on Friday, Aug. 22 at Shark Stadium.