Basehor 10-year-old jumps at chance to attend local football camp

Beth Kornegay
Special to the Times
Olivia Tilley was the only girl to attend the recent Junior Bobcat Football Camp.

Ten-year-old Basehor resident Olivia Tilley considers herself a “sporty girl”, so it might not be surprising that Olivia asked her mom to sign her up for a football camp at Basehor-Linwood High School.   

Olivia is a fifth-grader who attends Glenwood Ridge Elementary School who also enjoys playing the piano, swimming and playing with her mini labradoodle, Barry. She started playing three on three football at recess last year and soon asked to join a flag football team through the local YMCA.   

After two seasons, Olivia asked her parents if there were any summer football camps she could attend.  Her mom Lesley reached out to BLHS Athletic Director Ross Schwisow, who welcomed Olivia to give the school’s summer football camp a try. 

“She wanted to attend the football camp at the high school to learn more about what the school team does and to be on her future field,” Lesley said.  “She also wanted to attend camp to learn more skills and to get better as a player.” 

The three-day Junior Bobcat Football Camp lasted two hours each evening.  Led by head coach Rod Stallbaumer, the camp included stations focusing on specific skills such as tackling, quarterback hand-off techniques, and recovering a fumble.  Players scrimmaged in grade-level groups and ran plenty of sprints as well. 

While some of her classmates teased Olivia for being the only girl at football camp, it didn’t bother her since she knew that was a possibility prior to signing up.  The trepidation of being the only girl was overshadowed by the opportunity to play the sport she loves. 

Several years ago, there was another girl who participated in the Junior Bobcat Football Camp, but Stallbaumer was very complimentary of Olivia’s participation this year. 

“Olivia did a great job and she didn’t hesitate or hang back at all,” Stallbaumer said.  “She jumped right in and did well.  She is actually in my son’s class and they play football at recess a lot and matter of fact, I’m pretty sure he got her a football for her birthday.” 

In the past, Olivia has been involved in competitive dance for three years but shifted her interest to sports and plans to continue with football and try another sport, softball.  Her goal with football is to be a kicker, punter, receiver, or play on defense, all the way to a professional football league.  Olivia wants to encourage other girls to who are interested in football to give it a try to find out if the sport is one that they enjoy as much as she does.