Last week I had the opportunity to attend the “AYFL Shawn Springs Football Camp” in Ashburn Va. Talk about “Hot”! It was stifling on the field. Nothing like practicing in heat equal to the dog days of summer. But this I will tell you;  the heat didn’t stop the kids and the coaches from giving their all. Even though I was invited to cater a party being hosted by Troy Cromwell (president of the AYFL), and not asked to coach,  I still wanted to hit the camp and relive my days of summer sports camps.

Above is the name sake of the camp,  Shawn Spring (wearing the red OSU hat) chatting with Coach Chris Brown.  Thank goodness Shawn was outnumbered by the PSU alumni who were coaching at the camp. Healthy Big 10 rivalry.  Troy shared with me that Coach Chris Brown is one of the most knowledgeable people he knows when it comes to football…Now that’s a compliment..

As Troy drove me from field to field (I was not permitted to drive myself due to my collection of speeding tickets),  I saw 305 boys ranging in ages from 1st grade through high school. What I observed was an exceptionally well-organized camp. The athletes were broken into groups that rotated and the coaches were breaking down skills and drills. Not only were there a ton of the local high school coaches who are known for their success working with these young men, but there was a plethora of former college and professional players assisting with the instruction as well.

The instruction was specific and individualized. Coaches pulling athletes aside and having conversations about corrections that needed to be made..

 Communication between the coaches was excellent and the kids knew the expectations. 

Stan Clayton is a former PSU and NFL player now offensive line coach at Lafayette University. Stan has a deep booming voice that kept the boys attention. 

Lamar Thomas is a former University of Miami and NFL player who now coaches at Hampton University. Lamar was assisting as a wide-receiver coach. Apparently, he and his fellow Hampton coach Keith Goganious ( PSU and NFL) believed in the long sleeves and hats to stay cool in the extreme heat. Keith insisted that was the way to go!! They were making me even hotter as I looked at them….

Intensely the players focused on what the coaches offered up….they were little sponges…I asked if they needed my assistance, but my offer was not received with open arms

I will assume my offer was denied because of the “celebrity” coaching that was already provided…Not only the above mentioned coaches, but the coaching staff also included … Andre Collins, Blair Thomas, Stan Jackson, Jason Belser, Keith Goganious,  Delbert Cowsette,  Quintus McDonald and others

And of course the water table,  a definite on a hot day!! The pyramid was spectacular…

 I think the boys were relieved when they finally made their way to the cafeteria for lunch and a break from the heat!!! As you can see this young man has attended the camp several years, that tells me they are definitely doing things right!! Due to the extreme heat, the kids were released early that day. As I chatted with the coaches at the dinner I catered the next evening, they told me turkey sandwiches and bananas had been their lunch everyday. So I decided to make something with a twist on their meal. These are delicious!

“Coaches Panini” With Chipotle-Honey Mayonnaise and Baked Sweet Potato Fries 


2 french baguettes

1 pound smoked turkey

1 pound smoked ham

1 pound pepper jack cheese

1 pound hickory smoked bacon

1 cup mayonnaise

2 chipotle peppers with 2 tbsp of adobo sauce

2 tbsp of honey

The fries are a slight cheat… 🙂

1 bag frozen sweet potato fries

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp garlic salt

1 tbsp paprika

olive oil

Directions: Panini

1. If you have a panini maker, pre-heat to correct setting. I use my stove top grill pan. Heat to medium and brush with butter or oil.

2. For mayonnaise, combine mayo, honey, and peppers with adobo sauce in food processor. Blend until peppers are fully integrated in the mixture.

3. Prepare sandwich..slice baguette brush with mayonnaise, layer with turkey, ham, bacon, and cheese.  Because I use my grill top, I cut the baguette into 4 pieces and place on grill top. I cover the pieces foil and then top with a cast iron skillet or any other heavy pan. Grill for 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Directions: Fries

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees

2. Mix cumin, garlic salt, and paprika in small dish

3. Place sweet potato fries in ziplock bag, drizzle olive oil over fries, and add mixture. Secure bag and toss around until all fries are coated.

4. Spread on a baking sheet. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until crisp….

Both the sandwich and fries are served with the Chipotle-Honey Mayonnaise

For the sweet treat…….Chocolate Cover Frozen Bananas


6-8 bananas

1 cup bittersweet or milk chocolate morsels (my kids like milk chocolate)

Popsicle sticks

additional toppings if desired chopped peanuts, coconut, sprinkles


1. Cut bananas in half

2. Insert popsicle sticks

3. Freeze for an hour

4. Melt morsels in the microwave or in a bowl over top boiling water. If using stove, make sure the bowl does not touch water or you will scorch the chocolate.

5. Dip bananas in chocolate…if adding additional toppings let bananas rest a minute then dip roll bananas in toppings.

6. Return to freezer for 10 minutes….

Stay tuned for my next blog about the camp and the great party Troy and Roxana Cromwell hosted in their beautiful home!!

Remember…….Who Do You Want In Your Kitchen On Game Day?