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‘It was a huge success’: KSS grad to return with expanded football camp and coaching staff

For the third year in a row, former Kelowna Secondary School grad and NCAA Division I football player Nolan Ulm is hosting a training camp for local athletes – and this time it's bigger than ever.

The Make It Happen Football Camp is back and alongside the added youth camp is a coaching staff that is more than double in size from last year and includes a current NFL player.

<who> Photo Credit: Nolan Ulm/Facebook

“It's a beast travelling this many guys in and figuring out accommodations, especially in Kelowna, but it's going to be such an incredible time to have all those guys together,” Ulm told KelownaNow.

In 2022, Ulm held a small football camp at KSS, eventually returning the next summer with the help of others to create a larger camp that boasted 19 coaches with NCAA Division I, NFL or CFL experience.

The Make It Happen Football Camp “was a huge success” not just on the field, but off the field, as coaches shared their stories with attendees.

“These guys (the coaches) got emotional, a couple of them teared up telling their story of rising to the football ranks wherever they ended up going, whether that was professional or just collegiate and so that was awesome,” Ulm explained.

The feedback was positive and many were interested in something for younger athletes since the camp was only for teenagers.

After brainstorming how to make a program for younger participants, the idea to create a youth camp was born, with a one-day session for kids ages six through 12 being added this year.

“Our whole goal is that it's non-padded and we're really going to link fun to sport, we want these kids to play sports as long as possible,” added Ulm.

The youth camp will not only feature football exercises but other sports as Ulm plans to bring out some members of the local hockey community.

“We're going to make it more of a sports camp and add in some hockey drills just to be able to reach as much of the community as possible with that,” said Ulm.

<who> Photo Credit: Nolan Ulm/Facebook

After the youth camp, there will be a coach’s clinic on the evening of June 20th before the main camp gets underway for two days on June 21/22.

More than 40 coaches are slated to bring their expertise to the camp, with the exciting addition of a Canadian NFL player – Tavius Robinson of the Baltimore Ravens.

When discussing the camp last year with KelownaNow, Ulm mentioned his goals of holding the camp annually and potentially recruiting an active Canadian player to help coach.

Not only did Ulm and those helping set up the camp attract Robinson, but NFL Canada is a sponsor of this year’s event, something that was very exciting to Ulm with his goals of one day playing in the league.

Another professional expected to make an appearance at the camp is Jesse Briggs, who recently retired after playing nine seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.

The former KSS athlete appeared in four Grey Cup games and won twice (2019 and 2021).

“It's all about giving back to the place where you once were,” said Ulm when asked about his thoughts on the growth of the camp.

“Because it's your job to allow those people to be able to stand on top of your shoulders and achieve what you never could by giving them those resources that you never had, so it just means the world.”

<who> Photo Credit: Nolan Ulm/Facebook

Proceeds from this year’s camp will be donated to the local Mamas for Mamas charity.

When speaking to KelownaNow last week, Ulm said that the camp had doubled the registrants compared to the same time last year and was well on the way to its fundraising goal, while also using its platform to raise awareness for the local charity.

Ulm added that there are scholarships available to athletes who want to attend the camp but can't cover the price, adding that they will not turn away an athlete due to financial reasons and to inquire about the opportunity at marketing@campmakeithappen.com.

After the camp, Ulm will be looking forward to his senior year at Eastern Washington University and preparing for the future, hopefully playing professional football.

“I'm excited to go compete for a championship and finish out my time with Eastern Washington,” he said.

“I've given my heart and soul to this program.”

More information on the camp can be found online at this link.



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