NFL lineman from ND brings football camp home
WILLISTON, N.D.—New York Jets lineman Brent Qvale lives by a simple creed.
"There's only two things in life you can control," Qvale said to a group of roughly 30 boys gathered around him. "That's your attitude and your effort."
It's a fitting message from an offensive lineman who has made an NFL career as an "effort guy." Born and raised in Williston, Qvale said it has been a goal of his to bring a football camp to Williston for a long time. When Williston head football coach Andrew Mock reached out to him last winter, Qvale jumped at the opportunity.
"It's something special to me," Qvale said. "Williston is home. I learned a lot growing up here. Now it's my time to give back."
Mock and Qvale worked together to organize the camp. They were able to bring in coaches from the University of Mary, the University of Jamestown and from the Bismarck Bucks. The two-day camp is geared to teach kids the fundamentals of football, with a focus on offensive and defensive line play. Special attention will be given to footwork, hand placement and teaching proper stances.
Both Qvale and Mock acknowledge one of the main reasons behind starting the camp was the lack of opportunity in this region of the state for athletes.
"The closest camp was five hours away," Mock said.
Qvale knows first-hand how important camps like this can be. Colleges first began noticing him after he began attending camps across the state. Qvale was given several scholarship offers before deciding to attend the University of Nebraska. After overcoming various injuries, including shoulder and three separate knee surgeries, Qvale earned a starting role during his last two years of college.
But despite starting at left tackle for a Big Ten school, Qvale went undrafted in 2014.
"It's one of those things, at the time, where you go 'This sucks,'" Qvale said. "But pretty quickly I told myself I needed to get it into gear if I was going to make it happen."
It didn't take very long for him to land a tryout. Qvale received a call from the Jets as the draft was winding down. The team expressed interest in him and he was signed shortly after the conclusion of the draft. Qvale earned a spot on the practice squad during his first season and last year started five games. Heading into this year he has a shot at earning a starting spot.
Qvale and Mock have already begun to plan for next year's camp. Their hope is to make it an annual event that will draw football players from all over western North Dakota and eastern Montana.
Mock sees the camp as a great way to encourage participation in football and make the team a stronger part of the community.
"Williston is a transient community," Mock said. "New kids are coming from all over. Football is a great way to give kids a group to belong to and to make them feel at home."