J. Craig Flowers provides leadership at Air It Out Football Camp


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US Army Colonel (ret.) J. Craig Flowers brings home the message of leadership at the Air It Out Football Camp each year. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]
The Air It Out football camp made its way back to the Texas Panhandle for a 12th straight year on Monday and Tuesday.

The prestigious camp held in Bushland, led by executive director and former coach/ Hereford graduate, Alan Wartes, has a tremendous reputation for developing young quarterbacks and wide receivers through proper instruction and training.

With the help of former Texas Tech quarterback and Hereford graduate Cody Hodges, along with former University of Texas tight end and Frenship graduate, David Thomas, the camp also instructs athletes about leadership and teamwork exercises that can be used in their professional lives in the future.

A decade ago, Wartes, added J. Craig Flowers to the Texas based traveling camp. Colonel (retired) J. Craig Flowers is a San Antonio native who played college baseball at TCU.

His more than 25 years in the United States Army encompassed a decade overseas, including three years in North Africa and 10 years in direct support of the special operations community. His final military assignment was at West Point where he served as senior staff officer, Director of Cadet Affairs and assistant baseball coach.

Flowers is the founder of The Sideline Leadership Company, which works with coaches and corporations on character, culture, and leadership development.

Wanting student-athletes to leave the camp with more than just football knowledge, Wartes thought it was a home run to bring in a man like Flowers with his expertise.

“I had a friend in the Austin-area who hired Craig Flowers,” Wartes said. “This friend of mine had his boys go through our camps and said we needed to meet. Colonel Flowers and I immediately became friends. He brings so much to what we do. He’s one of the best in the country in leadership and character development.”

US Army Colonel (ret.) J. Craig Flowers speaks to the Air It Out Football Camp in Bushland on Monday. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]
Flowers now travels with Air It Out during the summer speaking to the parents and the athletes who attend during the summer. Flowers says this is the perfect opportunity to get his message across to the future.

“I deliver a lot of workshops on how most elite teams are able to win,” Flowers said. “Yes, they are talented but it’s their behavior. They know one another like no other. They care for one another like no other, or they can challenge one another.

“My role is, I come in and spend two to four hours a day trying to develop young men of character using football as a leadership laboratory. It’s great to see some of these players come back. It’s rewarding to spend time with these young men.”

Flowers adds being with Wartes, Hodges and Thomas during the summer year in and year out has been an instant click. The four have become extremely close and have outstanding chemistry.

“The four of us are more like brothers,” Flowers said. “We have a lot of laughs, but we all hold each other accountable. We make sure we put on seven to nine camps a summer and for us it may be a lot of camps but for each one we go to it’s the first camp for a student-athlete when we get here. So, we’ve been in Bushland, and we have to make sure that these 170 campers are seeing it for the first time, so we need to bring the same energy as the last time.”

At the end of each camp, both Flowers and Wartes want the football campers to get the instruction of football to be better on Friday nights, however, they want each athlete leaving knowing how to be a better role model for the future.

“Colonel Flowers brings accountability into today’s world,” Wartes said. “He makes me and my coaches better. If you listen to him, you can learn a lot. Football drills are football drills, but we love to hit on faith and leadership. That’s something we believe in.”

Flowers echoed Wartes’ comments.

“Every Air It Out is a thrill for us,” Flowers said. “We talk to the parents and the young men on how to utilize that time and character and how they act when no one is cheering them on. If we can get them to have discipline to take the action the elite teams do, then they will have a chance on Friday’s as well as in life going forward.”

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