Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Interview: New Glen Allen Football Head Coach Salvatore Camp

He's ready now.

After a first stint as a high school football coach in Florida basically thrust upon, Salvatore Camp has come a long way.

To be closer to family, Camp headed to Chester in 2008 for a six-year stint on David Bedwell's staff at L.C. Bird, experiencing playoff heartache first, but then, three straight state championships.

And now, after a year as head coach of Duluth High School in Duluth, Georgia, Camp is beyond thrilled to get back to Virginia, this time as the third head coach in the short history of Glen Allen High School. Camp was announced as coach on Monday, replacing Keylon Mayo, who was not retained after two seasons where the Jaguars went 1-9 in each campaign, after making their first playoff appearance under original head coach Francel Smith in 2013, going 4-6 in the regular season before losing to Denbigh in the 4A South Region First Round.

Camp spoke to RVA Sports Network by phone on Tuesday from Georgia and discussed the move, his philosophies, and his excitement over taking the reins at Jaguar Nation.

RVASN: It's been an interesting road you've taken the past 12-18 months.

Camp: It has been. It's been kind of a whirlwind thing. I was kind of surprised when the opportunity (Glen Allen) came up when it did, and I wanted to try to take advantage of it while it was there. I'm excited to get up there, get started, and get the program rolling and get this thing turned around.

RVASN: How much do you know about Glen Allen, the program, the school?

Camp: I interviewed there two years ago, and when I studied film, I think there's a very unlimited amount of potential in that community to be successful. I think there's a very good base to build from, there's a really good group of kids coming up from the Ravens organization in Glen Allen, and I'm reaching out to parents, to students via Twitter and all that good stuff to just start to be known to them and make an outreach to the kids. My job to turn the program around is to get out there, get my face out there, let these kids see me and keep these kids at Glen Allen. The talent is there to win. The entire culture of the program has to be changed.

RVASN: Is the first step in changing the culture making yourself the "face" of the program?

Camp: That is step one, and step two is hiring a staff that's on board with my vision for what that program can be. I've started to work on that now. I, by myself, can't do it. I need assistants to coach and bring their particular set of skills to the table. I think that's very important for our program to be successful.

RVASN: Explain what you learned from your time at L.C. Bird and what you plan to take away from that to help Glen Allen.

Camp: The great thing about Bird is that they don't reinvent the wheel over there. It's no secret what they're doing. We're going to implement a lot of that philosophy. We're going to keep things uncomplicated and let our kids play fast and free, be simple with our terminology. We're not going to make the kids think so much that they can't execute what they're going out on the field to do.

We want to play physical, defensively and offensively, that's the goal. We're going to change the mentality. I'm not a big spread guy. We're going to run the football, and we're going to play defense, and that's the mentality, the philosophy that I'm going to bring over there.

RVASN: It's easy to keep the wheel when people know what you're going to do, but most of the time it's a matter of can you stop them, and in the past several years at Bird, most haven't.

Camp: Yes, and I think that comes with preparation, with film study, with coaches doing their jobs on the weekends to break down film so we can put our kids in the best position possible. I think film study with the kids, you know, the big eye in the sky never lies. So that's a good teaching tool for us, and obviously we have to do the work in the film room as a coaching staff to make sure we prepare our kids.

Camp played high school football in his native Florida, had, as he describes, a short college career, and came into his first head coaching position, at Boynton Beach High School in an unorthodox way. He freely admits he was not ready for the position at the time, but his work in those two seasons, 2006 and 2007, laid a foundation for a team that now is a playoff regular.

"We did some good things at Boynton, and left it in much better shape than it was, but I moved to Virginia to be closer to my sister, and I was very lucky to land when I landed at Bird."

His seven seasons coaching in Chester gave him plenty of opportunity to taste success, and now, after a year at the helm in Duluth, he's beyond excited to return to RVA.

Camp: I miss Virginia. Virginia is home, Virginia is where I want to be. It's where my family is. Atlanta's a great city...to visit. It's not home. When I came back to Virginia at Thanksgiving, it just felt like that's where I'm supposed to be, so the timing of it all worked out.


ANALYSIS: Glen Allen opened in the fall of 2010, began varsity football competition in 2011, and in their first five seasons have won nine games, four of them in 2013 when they reached their only postseason game. The road will be difficult, with the Jaguars moving into the powerhouse that is the 5A South Region as of last August. The region has produced the first three state champions in the new classification: L.C. Bird twice, and Highland Springs last Saturday.

With the other two public schools in the Central Region that opened after the year 2000, Deep Run and Cosby, experiencing good levels of success after just a few seasons, there was pressure on Glen Allen from the moment the school opened. The good news is the Jaguars now have a legitimate opportunity to turn the page, begin a new era, and do so while some of their West End, and Colonial District brethren, are struggling. Deep Run is searching for its new coach. J.R. Tucker has had one winning season since 2008, Mills Godwin is within reach.

Also, Douglas Freeman in its tenure under Mike Henderson has proved you don't have to be named Hermitage to be good in football in Western Henrico County. Camp is keenly aware of the long road ahead, but there's no doubt he cannot wait to get back in the Old Dominion to help Jaguar Nation begin another ascent towards what they've always wanted: excellence.

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