Coach Ken Heupel, pictured at last year's The Gathering of Champions camp, addressed the February Grand Nation meeting last week.
Photo by Zoey Smiles courtesy of Grand Nation.
Coach Ken Heupel believes everyone is on this earth for a reason. His mission is to help youngsters find that purpose.
A former head football coach at Northern State University, an NCAA Division II program located in Aberdeen, S.D., Heupel coached football on the college level for more than 27 years. Today, he’s teaching the game of life.
“We all believe in one thing — that God created each and every one of us and we’re put on this earth for one purpose,” said Heupel. “Through our camps, we try to find out what that purpose is. We bring the same concept to all ages: God does not make junk. He makes greatness and He made you for a purpose.”
Last week, Heupel addressed Grand Nation’s February monthly meeting at the South Grand Lake Christian Church and shared his game plan for equipping individuals of all ages to reach their full potential on and off the field.
Heupel is the president and CEO of Day of Champions Sports. Founded on the four principles of leadership — discipline, respect, trust and hard work, Day of Champions Sports is an extension of The 14 Foundation, which was started by Heupel’s son, former University of Oklahoma National Champion quarterback Josh Heupel, to help underprivileged kids.
Coach Ken Heupel talks to campers during last year's The Gathering of Champions.
Photo by Jeff Millikin courtesy of Grand Nation.
Each year, Ken Heupel and his staff present seven weeks of camps across the country. These camps focus on providing campers, ages 8-18, with guidance in life skills and athletics to improve both their character and athletic skills, which, Heupel says, is a winning combination for life.
Based on key fundamentals supported by cutting-edge drills and techniques, the athletic skills instructions are a way for the staff to connect with the campers.
While athletic skill enhancement, specifically football and fast-pitch softball, is a component of the camps, it is not the main priority. According to Heupel, even non-athletic campers benefit from the camp experience.
Since 2009, Grand Nation and Day of Champions Sports have worked together to present The Gathering of Champions. A free, three-day outdoor day camp, The Gathering of Champions is open to children and teens, ages 8-18, in the Grand Lake area. The annual camp will be held this year on June 10, 11 and 12. Plans are still under way and will be announced closer to the date on Grand Nation’s Facebook page.
Day of Champions Sports also holds an annual recruiting/scouting combine to help connect students to college opportunities. This year’s Quapaw and Jack Barrett Native American Scouting Combine will be held from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at Let’s Play Soccer, 100 North McCormick, in Oklahoma City. Registration begins at 8:15 a.m.
Top-tier coaches will be on hand to evaluate the state’s top Native American football players. The combine is a key step in helping these athletes achieve their dreams of playing at the next level, while also improving their football skills.
Throughout the day, students and their parents participate in multiple academic sessions about communication, the recruiting process, a 10-step college roadmap, financial aid and a college recruiting fair.
The combine, which is open to Native American high school seniors and past graduates not enrolled in college, boasts a 70 percent placement rate. The focus is on helping students find and secure a college or placement in a vocational school or the military.
“Of the 70 percent placement rate from the combine, 70 percent are staying in school,” Heupel said. “Why are they staying in school? They got a chance. We’re the link between high school and college. The combine gives students an opportunity to play the game of life. And, then we continue to provide support with the main goal of seeing them walk across that stage as college graduates.”
Like every Day of Champions Sports camp, the combine is open to athletes and non-athletes, males/females and traditional/nontraditional students. There are also openings for non-Native American graduates.
Grand Nation executive director Jennifer Hinson is the recruiter for the Grand Lake area. Anyone interested in attending the March 2 Native American Scouting Combine can contact her at (918) 276-2192.
For more information on the combine, contact James Pryor, Intertribal Club Advisor, Native American Liaison at Eastern Arizona College, at (928) 919-1908 or by email at eat0@eau0eav0eaw0.
For more information about Grand Nation and its next monthly meeting, call (918) 276-2192.
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