HOLLAND, Mich -- It was a packed crowd of 375 middle schoolers on Friday for Kirk Cousins' football camp at Hope College. The former Holland Christian quarterback and current starter for the Minnesota Vikings is putting on a two-day clinic featuring meals, football and of course, fun. The campers enjoyed talks and lessons from Cousins as well as knockerball and dodgeball. While the kids certainly look up to Cousins, it goes both ways.
"It's so fun to interact with these young people just walking off the field hearing their stories," Cousins smiled, "how they follow us during the season and cheer us on, it's really a joy and great inspiration. It's a two way street though, you hope your play on the field inspires them to dream big but right back at them, they inspire me too."
Football is a primary focus but at the end of the day, Cousins just wants the campers to have fun.
"Football has always been fun for me but I never loved drills," Cousins said, "I never loved the boring long days of camps, I wanted to make sure our camp was fun and the best two days of their summer."
Cousins has converted some West Michigan kids into become fans of the Minnesota Vikings but he realizes some may just be putting on a face.
Most of these kids are Lions fans and I understand, they're from Michigan or some are Bears fans if they're from Southwest Michigan or the Chicago area but they still seem to put on a good face and do the 'SKOL' chant," he laughed, "and I think they're in our corner so that's fun."
The Holland Christian graduate makes it a priority of his offseason to make it back to West Michigan and give back because this community still means so much to him and his family."
"In a way, I really haven't moved on because this is my hometown and I love it here, my closest friendships are people that I met here in Holland, as we move away, we still have much of our life, our business, our connections are here.
Not only does Cousins take the time to teach campers about his faith and football, he also shows them how to have fun, even playing some knockerball with his fellow coaches in front of the kids.
"I have to be careful," he laughed, "I don't want to get injured out here so I kind of toe a fine line of running around and having fun and not being too foolish. I thought I'd jump in there and try it, it's so fun, I wish we could keep going but we only have ten knockerballs and so many kids and activities.
The camp has gone from one hundred players a few years ago to 375 on Friday and it's something the kids won't forget for a long time.
"It's pretty cool because you see him on TV and it's like I met that guy and I know him," said eighth grader, Sam Weiss.
"Hhe's a really good role model," camper Jake VerMaas added, "somebody to look up to, it's cool that he comes to the camp and it's the same guy that plays on Sundays."