BRADENTON, FLA — 2014 has been a year of positive change for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and another one of those changes is being counted as a great success.
The team just wrapped up a three-day mini-camp the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Bombers mini-camp has traditionally been held in Winnipeg, featuring mostly veteran players.
But this year, Head Coach Mike O’Shea and GM Kyle Walters felt it would be a better use of time and money to hold the camp in the southern USA, inviting only Quarterbacks currently on the roster, plus the rookies and free agents identified by the scouting staff in the off-season.
O’Shea calls the camp fantastic.
“It exceeded the expectations. The talent level that was brought here by Kyle and his staff, I think it really blew all of the coaches away. Right now, what we just did here, was vital for this organization and I think we will reap the rewards for it.”
Between 15-20 players of the more than 50 who were at the mini-camp will now be invited to main camp in June. But while players were being evaluated to see if they’ll make cut, the coaching staff was making an impression too.
One moment that caught the eyes of everyone at the IMG Academy was O’Shea taking water bottles out to the field for the players.
When O’Shea was reminded what a rare sight it is to see a Head Coach lugging water around, his answer reinforced why he’s so liked and respected around the League.
“The deal is, everybody is in charge of everything,” says O’Shea. “Just because they put an HC in front of my name doesn’t mean anything. I take Pinball Clemons as an example, and I am here to serve them in whatever ways they need. I think it’s important that everybody realizes, at any given time, they can choose to lead and do the right thing. And we need everybody contributing in every way possible to make sure we’re going in the right direction.”
To that end, the coaches were not just evaluating the talent on the field. They were checking out personalities and making sure the men who become Blue Bombers this year have more than just exceptional skill.
“We’ve realized, we’re getting good characters in here too. And that was from Kyle’s directive, from him and I talking to the scouting staff and we needed to make sure we got that in here too,” says O’Shea.
President and CEO Wade Miller, was also on hand for the camp and says, “We are dedicated to finding the players who will take our team to the next level with their raw talent, passion, and heart.”