“This is not your average camp, for real, man. When was the last time you went to a camp and you were rocking Lululemon, bro?”
Right from the moment he first addresses his charges, Kwaku Boateng makes clear that his Sacks For Racks Camp Rush tour is just a little different.
The Ottawa Redblacks Canadian defensive end is in his third year of offering off-season workshops for young aspiring pass rushers and the growth of the project has been tremendous. What began as a single day event at Foote Field in Edmonton in 2020 has become a four-city tour, complete with an official outfit deal from Lululemon.
The small group sessions, which feature a hard cap of 14 high school athletes working with Boateng, is one of very few events north of the border focused on the technical details of rushing the passer. With an instructor who has put up 25 sacks in his first four CFL seasons, the goal is in the name: to upgrade a player’s sack production so they might monetarily benefit as Boateng has.
However, as Boateng wrapped up his two Ontario-based camps in Kitchener and Waterloo this week, the Sacks For Racks founder expressed much more meaningful aspirations to 519 Sports Online’s Darren Stevenson.
“I hope that they took away discipline and hard work, but more importantly, applying that on and off the field,” Boateng said.
“I feel like a broken record at this point, but that’s what it comes down to. Telling these young men that the same aspirations you have for on the field, apply off the field. Find ways to be great on and off the field, that way we are creating complete players.”
It’s a mindset that Boateng himself learned in part from coaches like Michael Faulds and Ron VanMoerkerke up the road at Wilfrid Laurier, filling him with an obligation to pass it down to the next generation of athletes in Kitchener-Waterloo.
With an emphasis on the mental details and finer points of pass rushing, Boateng even selects player captains from the small group of athletes present to motivate and encourage the others. He has simply been blown away by the results.
“Honestly, I was greatly impressed, because this year’s camp and the drills were a lot harder than last year,” Boateng said. “I’m sure you got clips of me huffing and puffing and sweating. It was probably more of a workout for me at some points.”
Players came from as far away as Windsor to soak up knowledge from the Ghanaian-born pass rusher who went from fifth-round CFL Draft pick to one of the league’s premiere ratio-breakers, but soon it will be Boateng who will be traveling.
For the first time, the Sacks For Racks’ camp tour is going to take place in multiple provinces, with events scheduled for March 26 in Calgary and March 27 in Edmonton — where Boateng first launched the project while starring with the Elks. Registration is limited with just 14 spots available, the three-hour training session costs $200.
Boateng left Alberta rather unceremoniously in free agency, but he is still going out of his way to give back to the local community. Pro football can be messy at times, but for high school kids, it is as pure as it comes.
“I love being out here with these athletes because I can see that they are passionate about it,” Boateng said. “As much as I’m passionate about the game, these are younger kids that haven’t seen the business aspect of the game. They’re still young and innocent in that sense. Just seeing them, seeing their eyes, seeing their focus, that’s why I’m here.”