Alex Wilkens is currently working on a lot of firsts—his first year as a head coach at Christiansburg, and this week, running his own summer camp for local youth.
Wilkens, who was hired in January to replace Tim Cromer, has been an assistant coach at Glenvar High School for the past nine seasons. He served as the defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator, passing game coordinator and was an integral part of their offseason strength and conditioning program.
He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Bridgewater College as well as a master’s degree in educational leadership from Radford University.
“I thought we had a very successful youth football camp this year. I hope for it to grow and to have even more kids next year. I was very impressed with the kids and how much they were learning out there,” he said.
Thirty-five kids attended the three-day camp that was co-sponsored by the Christiansburg Recreation Department. They received instruction in passing, running and proper tackling from Wilkens and many of his high school players.
“Our goal was to teach the younger kids proper technique on the very basic skills related to football. I think one of the most important things to teach kids is to how get their bodies in the right position to be effective and safe in this sport when it comes to tackling, blocking, and hand placement when catching, taking handoffs, blocking, and shedding blocks,” Wilkens said.
But most importantly, he wanted the younger kids to feel like they are a part of our program and that he, his coaches and plyers value what they do and the importance they have with regards to the future to Christiansburg football.
In addition to the daily practice sessions, several former Blue Demons and Virginia Tech football players spoke to the campers on the importance of life both on and off the field. The speakers included former Virginia Tech and CHS quarterback Brenden Motley and University of Charleston and former CHS receiver Joey Augustin.
Also as part of the camp, many of Wilkens’ Blue Demon varsity players helped instruct the younger kids. This was a positive thing, according to Wilkens, heading into the fall.
“To be honest, I thought this was the most enlightening and positive thing I saw in this camp. I felt like our high school kids had a strong desire to help with these kids. I did not tell them they needed to help, I simply asked for volunteers and I found they had a strong affinity for spending time with the youth kids,” he said.
In coaching, Wilkens said it is rare that you find people who get excited about other people’s potential. “We are fortunate to have a lot of selfless, program-oriented kids in our program right now,” he said.
“We really wanted our current high school players to drive a lot of the teaching and reinforcing of the skills taught and the youth kids responded very well to that. I thought our high school kids did great with the younger kids as well.”
Wilkens attended Floyd County High School and played football and ran track under long-time Coach Winfred Beale, who he considers a mentor.
The two square off on August 25 when Christiansburg travels to Floyd for this year’s benefit game. The Blue Demons officially open Wilken’s 2017 campaign on September 1 at home versus Giles.