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Berger, Trattou Help Lead Young Athletes in Coon Rapids Football Clinic

View images of the youth football clinic the Vikings held at Coon Rapids High School.

Vikings center Joe Berger doesn't just want to be good at playing football. He also wants to be good at teaching football.

Berger spent an evening this week working on drills with second- through eighth-grade athletes; specifically, he helped teach them how to snap the football.

"It's fun to teach them and then to see how your instructions go," Berger said. "That's always a fun thing with these camps – you think you explain something perfectly, and then it's not so perfect. And you wonder if it's you or them.

"It's always great to be out here and get involved with stuff in the community," added Berger, in his 12th NFL season and sixth in Minnesota. "It's good to see the kids out here – we're enjoying a game that I've loved for years."

Tuesday's football clinic marked the third annual event held with the Coon Rapids Youth Football Program. Approximately 300 young men were led by Vikings Youth Football Manager E.J. Henderson, who spoke with them about the importance of education, hard work and perseverence. He was joined by Berger, defensive end Justin Trattou and former Vikings running backs Chuck Foreman and Ted Brown.

"The Coon Rapids community has been a great partner with the organization for the past three years," Henderson said. "Their coaches are dedicated to the well-being of the players, and the kids love anything involving the Vikings." 

Members of the Coon Rapids High School varsity team were also on hand to manage each of the eight stations – including passing, kicking, gauntlets and handoffs – to assist the alumni and current Vikings players who ran the individual station drills. 

Trattou worked with a group on a pass-rush drill, teaching them how to sack the quarterback and tackle correctly. He said he appreciated the clinic's large turnout and the enthusiasm of all the young players.

"It's always fun working with kids, because they have a ton of energy and excitement, and the simplest things – just seeing guys like us – make their day," Trattou said. "I think any time you get an opportunity to work with kids, it's good, and especially with football.

"Nowadays, young kids playing football is one of the best things to teach them about life," Trattou added. "It did a lot for me as a man, so any time you can give back, it's always good." 

Mike Burnside, Vice President of the Coon Rapids Athletic Association, said the football program welcomes the unique opportunity to work with the Vikings to host the clinic.

"To have the combination of current players and the alumni brings both excitement and experience to teaching football techniques to the kids," Burnside said. "The interaction between the players and kids is a positive experience for them and hopefully will inspire them as they grow older to be involved in their community as these players currently are."

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