East Coast Prep
Paves Way for Glory
By Tim Davis (This article appeared originally in The Berkshire Record on Dec. 5, 2013)
GREAT BARRINGTON — Very quietly, and without fanfare and incident, the East Coast Prep football academy moved onto Kutscher’s Sports Camp in August for their inaugural season.
With an active enrollment of roughly fifty kids, the East Coast Prep football team went on to win six of their 10 games versus various college J.V. teams.
Honestly, it’s not easy for a first year program to field a team, yet founder Dick Bell has assembled a nationally recognized coaching circuit for fifty kids - from as far away as Texas and Florida – with the goal of finding them a place to play college football in 2014.
Over this past season, Division 1 schools including the University of Illinois from the Big Ten and Western Michigan from the Mid-American Conference, have sent scouts to Great Barrington and signed players to scholarships from the East Coast Prep roster.
Bell has had the foresight to acknowledge that there are thousands of players in the country who would significantly benefit from not only a disciplined football environment where players can add skills, but also a place where these kids, who are on the fringe of qualifying for college, can improve both their academics and test scores in order to play successfully at the next level.
“Thirty years ago there were programs like (East Coast Prep) but over the years they have gone away,” Bell said. “At this point you have one in New York and one in Maine.”
These programs are now in need especially for players on the fringe of qualifying both academically and with good test scores, due in part by the higher standards set forth by the NCAA over the recent years.
“Right now there are hundreds and thousands of kids (in a similar situation),” Bell said. “We provide the vehicle where they need to go.”
Next week over fifty college scouts ranging from Division 1 and 1AA, and those from local Division 2 and 3 schools, will attend a showcase practice on the East Coast Prep campus to time, measure, and evaluate the increase of talent that Bell and his staff have developed over the past three months.
“At a (typical) high school (football program), you might have one, two, or three prospects, but here we have fifty,” Bell said.
On the East Coast Prep website, the enrolled players are listed on the site for college football recruiters to eye and assess, with each player’s grade point average and test scores.
Additional information is also provided about the player’s skill level on the football field, and what Division they would be best suited for.
“Illinois, UMass, and other Division 1 and 1AA programs have come in during the year - on December 3 they will all be here for a showcase practice,” Bell said. (They) will be there to make scholarship offers to the kids right there.”
Each kid that stuck with the program has improved on the field and also off the field and in the classroom.
“We had over an one-hundred point average increase on the test scores,” Bell said. “Going through a challenging environment a lot of the kids grew up – I had parents say to me they didn’t recognize their son in how much the kid grew up in that regard - which is great.”