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Vikings’ Youth Camp showcases ‘the beauty of football’

Former Vikings offensive lineman Dave Dixon attended the clinic Tuesday in Two Harbors.

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Former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman David Dixon, left, works with Tyson Kussatz of Two Harbors during a blocking drill Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Two Harbors High School.
Jamey Malcomb / Duluth News Tribune
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TWO HARBORS — The practice fields at Two Harbors high school came alive Tuesday when nearly 200 kids showed up for a football skills clinic hosted by the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings Youth Camp was the last 10 events hosted by the team at sites across Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. The camps focus on an array of skills from properly warming up to football-specific drills for blocking and tackling.

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Jack Falk, 13, of Two Harbors practices carrying the ball during the Vikings Youth Camp Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Two Harbors High School.
Jamey Malcomb / Duluth News Tribune

About a dozen Vikings youth development coaches were on hand for the clinic as well as former Vikings player Dave Dixon. Dixon spent 10 years with the club from 1994 to 2004 and played in some of the team's most defining games of the era, including the 1998 NFC Championship Game.

The camp is open to kids ages 6 to 14 and highlights the Vikings’ development motto: “Teach. Play. Grow.” according to Joe Rush, the team’s youth and high school football coordinator.

“Our goal is to light that spark in the interest of football so hopefully they can take what they’re learning today and continue at home with mom or dad or a sibling,” Rush said. “Then really our goal is to get them to sign up in their local youth associations.”

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Minnesota Vikings youth development coach Emily Evans, left, demonstrates how to throw the ball during a camp Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Two Harbors High School.
Jamey Malcomb / Duluth News Tribune

The program is also working to ensure not just boys, but girls have the opportunity to play and participate. Coaches at the camp included Emily Evans and Rachelle Piram of the Minnesota Vixen, a professional tackle football team based in the Twin Cities.

Campers rotated through a wide variety of stations that focused on everything from blocking skills to throwing and catching with Dixon helping them work on blocking skills.

While offensive line skills aren’t at the top of most young players' to-do lists, the work is important for all players, regardless of the position they end up playing, according to Two Harbors football coach Tom Nelson.

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Noah Schulz of Hermantown work on a tackling drill during the Vikings Youth Camp Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in Two Harbors.
Jamey Malcomb / Duluth News Tribune

“That’s the beauty of football, there’s something for everyone,” Nelson said. “There’s something for the big guys and the little guys — and let’s face it not everyone can be a running back, but even for those that are, it’s important for them to know what those guys up front are doing.”

Even Dixon, a longtime NFL veteran, didn't come into the league as an offensive lineman. Originally a rugby player from New Zealand, Dixon played defense at Arizona State before being drafted by the New England Patriots in 1992.

Dixon credited the patience of former Vikings coach Dennis Green in working with him to make the transition from defense to offense and become a 10-year starter in the NFL.

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Former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman David Dixon answers questions from kids at a camp Tuesday, July 19, 2022 at Two Harbors High School.
Jamey Malcomb / Duluth News Tribune

Before the kids split up for some flag football games, Dixon spent a few minutes answering questions from campers, mostly centered around some of his famous teammates like Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper.

It’s the second time Dixon has come out to one of the camps and he said the best part was seeing the kids get outside and engage with the game he loves.

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“I just love that they want to learn and that they want to engage in what you have to say,” Dixon said. “It’s a good, good feeling that you’re teaching them something.”

More from Jamey Malcomb
The three coaches graduated from the school in the early 1990s and ended up playing college football together at Valley City State in North Dakota.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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