Dennis and Mark Fowler pass along their passion and knowledge at their Soccer Skiil Camp.
TERRYVILLE: Their passion for giving back to the communities they love is second to none.
Their love for family goes to an even higher level.
The First Annual Fowler Boys Soccer Camp kicked off on a blistering hot Monday morning and will run all week.
Dennis (Lewis Mills) and Mark Fowler (Terryville), two of the most respected coaches in the Berkshire League and have been planning to put together two camps, one for basketball, the other for soccer for the better part of a decade.
Dennis Fowler is an eight time Berkshire League Champion at Mills and current girls soccer coach while Mark Fowler has been roaming the coaching box for 20 years and is the Athletic Director for the Middle School.
I stopped by to see the camp on Tuesday after the air quality had drastically improved and witnessed the campers (who ranged from grades two through ninth) having a blast practicing skills, playing in scrimmages and learning from mentors they see on the high school stage.
Four local star athletes from the Kangaroos and the Spartans pitched in their time and experience to make the campers days that much more rewarding.
Freddy Marinelli and Elli Spring represented the Spartans while Jenna Covello and Adam Pelz made the Kangaroo faithful proud.
In late June, early July of this year, the Fowler boys held the basketball camp, aptly named “Camp Kanga” and it was a tremendous success with 80 kids participating in the week long learning event.
The numbers were impressive enough to allow the staff to split groups up and fill five days.
“We had 37 in the morning for the elementary school session and 43 for the afternoon middle school session,” Dennis Fowler said.
Basketball fundamentals, conditioning, teamwork and camaraderie were the themes for the week and it made an idea, long in the making, come to fruition.
“Mark and I have been wanting to do this for a long time,” Dennis Fowler said. “Ever since we started coaching but honestly, we never got out act together to get it done. So this year, on Martin Luther King Day I told Mark he was coming over my house and we were going to work this thing through for six to eight hours to get all the leg work done. We built the foundation that day.”
These guys are a model for others looking to get things done through teamwork.
“We work well together well,” Dennis Fowler said. “For basketball, Mark was the curriculum director and I did the administration work. For soccer, I was the curriculum director and Mark was the admin guy.”
“We tried to stay with our strengths,” Mark Fowler said. “I’m a basketball guy at heart while Dennis is a soccer guy at heart.”
Their passion and pure enjoyment of what they were doing was beyond evident.
Hey, if you get up every day doing what you love, it’s kind of hard to call it work, right?
Being gifted athletes themselves, the Fowler boys are looking to leave a mark on a place that means a whole lot to them.
“For us it’s about giving back to the community,” Dennis Fowler said. “We are both very invested in the community, we both live here and before this year, there really wasn’t a basketball camp for the kids.”
My friends lost their father, Phillip on May 14 and the loss struck at the core of who they are but through their faith in family and community, the champion sides of each brother has shone through even in a dark time.
Was dad smiling down on the boys a little brighter today as the pulled off the project that began years before?
“Absolutely,” Mark Fowler said. “Especially today because we knew dad would have been our logistics guy here. He’d be here right now, chatting with parents as they came in, handing out the ice pops to the kids, so we miss him a lot today and all week.”
“He was definitely excited for us to do this,” Dennis Fowler said. “He’s looking down smiling today. Our older brother Jeff, who lives in Florida sent us a text today saying the same thing, that dad would have been the PR guy for us, using his great people skills.”
“He’s happy and proud knowing we are finally doing this!” Dennis Fowler said with a big laugh.
Hey, good things take time and from what I saw on Tuesday, mission accomplished.