What started out as just a simple idea to try and find some future quarterbacks for Waukesha South quickly turned into a national phenomenon for Pewaukee's Jeff Trickey. It happened so fast that it almost blindsided the former South head football coach and now assistant at Waukesha West.
In a matter of years, Trickey went from running a simple one-day camp at South High School for a couple of local kids to running and directing what is believed to be the largest and most successful youth and high school quarterback camp in the United States.
"When I decided to run that first camp back in the summer of 1988, I had no idea what it was going to turn into," said the former standout quarterback at John Marshall High School in Milwaukee and Ripon College. "We started in Waukesha, went to Wausau and then to Minneapolis. Here we are, 22 years later, in 15 states from coast to coast. It's been a great run. It's been a lot of fun and hopefully we've helped out a lot of young men."
That first camp included about 30 kids, all high schoolers from Milwaukee and as far west at Oconomowoc. Word spread fast, and Trickey, 60, ran two camps with 80 kids taking part from around the state one year later.
The next year, thanks to a push from Wausau West varsity coach Mike Dressler, Trickey's camp in Minneapolis took off.
In 2009, a total of 2,700 kids took part, ranging from fourth grades 4-12 in one of the 30 two-day camps. Athletes came from 42 states, including some from Canada and three from Europe. Two sessions are held at each site. One is for youth in grades 4-8, and the other division is for high school players.
Players who have come through Trickey's camps included a Who's Who in Wisconsin football and in the National Football League. Tyler Donovan of Arrowhead High School and the Wisconsin Badgers once took part, as did John Navarre, formerly of Cudahy High School, the University of Michigan and Miami Dolphins.
Two current NFL quarterbacks, Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys and Kyle Orton of the Denver Broncos, both attended Trickey's camps in their high school days. Chris Griesen, former QB for the Arizona Cardinals, also took part.
"There's no doubt that going to Mr. Trickey's camps separated me from just being an average quarterback to a higher level," Donovan said. "Those experiences at his camps taught me a lot about playing quarterback. He covers everything about the position of quarterback. He doesn't miss a thing. He goes over the mental side of the game as much as the physical side. He's just a great guy.
"He taught us about football and about life. The 1-on-1 time was great. Looking back, going to his camps was the best thing I ever did as far as elevating my game."
Matt Hasselbeck, quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, who broke into the NFL as Brett Favre's backup, runs his own quarterback and receivers camp in Seattle. He's enlisted the help of Trickey the last three years.
"Coach Trickey has directed my quarterback and receivers camp for the last three years," Hasselbeck said. "I would be hard-pressed to find a coach more passionate and knowledgeable about the quarterback position.
"His love for coaching, coupled with his positive life messages, will leave a lasting impression on any quarterback fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from him."
Some of Trickey's biggest camps can be found in California, Arizona, Texas and Ohio. This year, he will have four separate camps in Waukesha, all held at Carroll University.
Trickey got the idea to run his own camp after visiting a friend's camp in Detroit in 1986. He can remember loading up his car, packing up his son Matt and taking the Aamot brothers, Kirk and Craig, with him.
"We made the long eight-hour drive and didn't even know what to expect," Trickey said. "Once we got there, we liked what we saw and had some fun. We talked about it all the way home.
"The next year, I started my own camp, and the rest is history."
Trickey is proud of the fact that many of his former players still work with him at his camps. The Aamots, who both played quarterback at South, are active along with Rob Slavens and Bill Altmann, two other former Blackshirts. Ryan Bingenheimer, another South student, also serves on Trickey's staff.
"I'm lucky to have so many great guys working for me," Trickey said. "Some of them have been there almost since the beginning. These guys are not only great coaches, but great people.
"We try and teach them a lot about the quarterback position, and a lot about life. These guys are great role models for all the campers."
Trickey also gets a lot of help from his wife Rhonda.
"My wife deserves a lot of credit for all of our success," Trickey said. "She runs the office and keeps things running smoothly."
Trickey's camps start with the foundation of the quarterback position.
"We start with the basics and build from there," Trickey said. "Quarterback is considered to be the most demanding position in all of sports. We teach them all the physical things as well as the mental, like reading defenses and things like that.
"So much of the position is above the shoulders."
Trickey certainly knows a thing or two about the sport. He's a member of the Ripon Hall of Fame and coached the Waukesha South varsity from 1986 through the 1992 season, turning South into one of the top programs in this part of the state in that span.
At South, Trickey's teams went 46-16, with three straight Braveland Conference titles at one point.
"The sport of football was good to me, and I'm happy to be able to give something back," Trickey said.
"Working with all the kids is very rewarding. Our goal is to make them better quarterbacks, and more important, better people."
For more information, visit.trickeyqbcamps.com.
The Jeff Trickey Quarterback camp provides a series of offers to young players learning the position:
• One-on-one small group instruction with Trickey and his staff of college and professional quarterbacks
• Maximum repetitions for all quarterbacks
• Breakdown and instruction of passing mechanics evaluated on videotape for each camper
• Intense quarterback preparation for all ability levels
• Mechanics of passing the football stressed individually
• Motivational lectures from Trickey concerning "accepting the risk of leadership"
• Disciplined, aggressive execution of drops, boots, dash, waggle, sprint and roll-out techniques
• Mental aggressiveness and being assertive in leadership
• Opportunity for families and coaches to be on the field and experience camp with their sons/quarterbacks
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