Monica wraps up year 17 at Manning camp
Published 12:45 am Wednesday, July 23, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
THIBODAUX — Though he admits it can be a grind over its annual four-day run, St. Charles Catholic football coach Frank Monica never leaves the Manning Passing Academy feeling that his time went for naught.
“You get to work with a lot of great people,” Monica said. “You’ll see a kid playing on TV on a Saturday and realize, ‘Hey, that guy was in my group.’ It’s a really rewarding experience.”
He’s felt those rewards for awhile. Monica wrapped up his 17th year of involvement as a coach at the camp, a tradition he began at the inaugural Manning camp 19 years ago when Monica was an assistant coach at Tulane.
The camp, now held at Nicholls State, was originally held at Tulane, established as a venue for high school football players to learn from Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning, other NFL players and coaches at every level of the game.
Monica has watched the event grow in a major way over that time period. The first Manning Academy hosted 180 young, aspiring players; this summer saw close to 1,200 participants.
While Monica began his involvement with the camp primarily through his ties with Tulane, the veteran coach needed no introduction to Archie Manning.
“We played baseball against one another,” Monica recalled. “We (Nicholls State) played (Ole Miss).
“I remember he got two hits against us. He probably could have gone and played pro baseball had he wanted to do that.”
43 collegiate quarterbacks also served as instructors at the event, including big names like Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston of Florida State and Marcus Mariotta of Oregon.
Those players combine with Monica and other coaches at the camp to teach primarily the intricacies of playing quarterback; it’s not limited to passers, however, the camp also features groups providing pointers to other skill positions for wide receivers, running backs and tight ends.
“We are paid a little bit. But it’s not why anyone goes,” Monica said. “It’s for the experience and the networking.”
He gave credit to Peyton Manning for creating the idea for the camp, and to the Manning family for promoting the sport as a whole through the endeavor.
“They want to keep football as No 1,” Monica said. “Football is under attack in a lot of ways, with the talk about concussions and all the things you hear through social media and television, embellishing big hits. I applaud them for promoting the game and giving back something to kids. They’re great role models and they try to hand it down to the next generation.”