10-Year-Old To Touchdown In Florida
In a game of inches, 10-year-old linebacker Justin Baskam needs a yard stick to start measuring his success. The Centerport football player was selected over 178 other players to attend a nationally recognized football program, as an Offense-Defense All-American player, in Florida.
A member of the Northport Youth Football Club Baskam and a fifth-grader at Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School, Baskam attended an Offense-Defense Football Camp this summer at Dowling College, where he was scouted by league experts to participate in the 8th annual Offense-Defense Youth All American Bowl in Orlando, Fla., to be held this winter.
More than 2,800 players throughout the country enroll in these week-long camps, held in mid-July, and only 200 make the cut.
“He’s a little bit more advanced, skill-wise, than your normal 10-year-old,” Herb Blanding, Offense-Defense All-American Bowl Committee member. “He’s got good footwork and he has a vision of presence on the field… [He’s a] quality leader on the field and he’s a very hard worker. He showed a lot of drive.”
Baskam’s passion for the sport is clear. He wakes up at 6:45 a.m. to stretch before camp with little protest, and admits he plans to play the sport “until I die.”
According to his father, David, Baskam’s work ethic is what makes him stand out above all other players.
“He took to football, and he really digs it. He is a very hard worker… He’s very coachable, and his work ethic is huge. If he wants something, he really goes after it, and as a dad, that’s what I’m most proud of – that he worked his way into getting this in life. I think that’s stellar,” the father said.
While at camp Baskam said he had the opportunity to test the waters as an offensive wide receiver, a position which he also excelled in, Blanding said.
His selection to the All-American team came as a surprise to Baskam, who said he thought other players might have been picked before him.
“I was really excited that I got picked; I couldn’t even say anything I was so excited. I just didn’t think I was gonna get chosen out of all the good kids who were there,” Baskam said. “Now I’m just gonna focus a lot at practice and do everything I’m told and learn more.”
Baskam said he particularly enjoys the aggressive, competitive contact component of the sport. He looks up to former NFL Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor as a role model and sometimes, his older brother, who plays football at the junior varsity level.
Blanding, who was one of the commissioners who selected Baskam to the team, said the boy stands to gain both the skill set and confidence to get him to the next level at the camp this winter.
“You get to play with kids from all over the country… Every kid is coming in as a star, and gets to raise the elevation of their game and improve their level of confidence knowing you can go there and play, so when he goes back and plays at home it makes him that much better,” Blanding said.
Baskam and his father will travel to Florida Dec. 30 for the week-long 8th annual Offense-Defense All-American Bowl festivities, taking place at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.