Busy Yeast still finds time for Harrodsburg football camp
Craig Yeast talks to players as staff member and former Harrodsburg teammate Dennis Johnson looks on Tuesday during the Craig Yeast Elite Skills Football Camp at Alvis Johnson Field in Harrodsburg. (Mike Marsee)
Yeast is busier than ever as he prepares for his first season as a head coach in high school football. But he was back in Harrodsburg this week for his annual Craig Yeast Elite Skills Camp, and he was back in his element.
His two-day camp at Alvis Johnson Field, which concluded Tuesday, gives Yeast the chance to work with kids, something he has always loved to do.
"I could do this all the time," Yeast said. "If I could do this all day every day for the rest of my life, I would do it."
Yeast, a Harrodsburg graduate who went on to star at Kentucky and play in both the National Football League and the Canadian Football League, has been hosting this camp in his hometown for several years. But now he is a rookie head coach at Bryan Station, and he is furiously getting ready for the coming season.
"Every day is like a grind," he said. "I have a tone of things going on, and it takes a toll on you. But it's not anything I can't handle."
He has some help at this camp, which has been affiliated with the Wilderness Trace Family YMCA for the past two years. YMCA staffers handle the paperwork and other behind-the-scenes duties, leaving Yeast to focus on football.
"I have a good relationship with the YMCA," he said.
He said he also has a good staff at Bryan Station, but he said there's still quite a bit more on his plate than there was during his stints as an assistant coach at Lincoln, Marion and Washington counties.
"There's a lot more work. Any time you're the head coach there's a lot more work. Even though I've got a good staff, trying to put your stamp on a program, it is really a ton of work," he said. "But this is exactly what I signed on for."
Yeast is the Defenders' third coach in as many seasons, and he inherits a team that went 1-10 last year, giving up an average of 35 points per game.
"Right now we're really focusing on changing the culture and the mentality of the kids and the program as a whole," he said. "We're trying to change the perception of the school and the community also."
Yeast said that starts with getting the players to believe they can succeed, even though they haven't done so before.
"Most of them, I don't feel like they really believe they can succeed. And it's a different type of kid when you're dealing with city kids. They have a lot more going on," he said.
He said he has also been working to change their work habits.
"At the beginning, they weren't used to any kind of work. As we've gone on, they have finally started to buy in and started to understand what we're trying to do and our level of expectations," he said.
Yeast loves to coach, whether he's working with high school players or the kids he sees at Harrodsburg, many of whom were wearing T-shirts from their previous trips to the camp.
And he wasn't bothered by the fact that the camp attendance was down to about 35 kids this year.
"There's not as many kids as there's been in past years, but it really doesn't matter how many kids you get. It's about the instruction they get, and these kids right here have gotten some good instruction," he said. "They've gotten a lot of reps, and they've learned a lot, and I want them to take that and apply it to their little league football or their middle school team."
His practice schedule at Bryan Station prompted him to move it from the evening to the morning, and his walk-up registration numbers took a big hit when it rained early Monday morning.
"Even though it rained, we were still here and we still had a good time," Yeast said.