Trent Dilfer Creates Epic Experience for Campers

Trent Dilfer interviews|||
Trent Dilfer didn’t create his QBEpic experience because he dislikes the youth sports camps he (and later his children) attended. The former Super Bowl-winning quarterback saw an opportunity in a field he knows well and decided to improve upon the standard approach. Dilfer’s vision can be seen at LakePoint Sporting Community in Emerson, Georgia, where he hosts multiple camps for developing quarterbacks each year, including one June 11-12. Connect Sports talked to Dilfer, currently an ESPN analyst, about making a lasting impact with QBEpic, how his career shaped the camps and the best way to stave off concussions. Why tackle improving youth camps? A lot of camps are really well done and you can learn a lot of stuff, but that stickiness effect has been lost. Many camps are just moneymakers to get the kids in and out and collect a check. It’s a business model; they have to create revenue not just pay for the people working the camps and the facilities and create salaries of out it. That’s not our goal. We make very little money. We wanted to make something that is very holistic. When you can touch a kid’s soul and mind as much as the physical part of his athletic makeup, then it’s sticky because you get him to experience a different level of challenges than he’s faced before. This is a passion play for us. You invite parents to the camps. Why? Incorporating the parents is really, really risky. Everybody thought I was crazy for doing it. But one of the issues with camps is the camp teaches a kid something and then he gets in the car and, many times, the parent ruins what was just taught with his or her opinions. That, or the parent wants to be involved and wear the kid out and put too much pressure on him. By bringing the parent to the camp, the parent hears the same message and understands the why behind what we are doing. Now, when they go home, there is no confusion about the messaging and the teaching. It also creates an awesome opportunity for the parent and child to have a cool experience together. Parents invest a lot in the process financially and emotionally; they need be rewarded for all they have done for the kid. [inlinead align="left"]"When you can touch a kid’s soul and mind as much as the physical part of his athletic makeup, then it’s sticky because you get him to experience a different level of challenges than he’s faced before."[/inlinead] How are your camps different? The February camp is super sought-after—that’s where you’ll see the elite quarterbacks because they have nothing else to do then. With the summer camps, we encourage kids not to come if they have a college camp that conflicts. If you have the chance to throw in front of a coach who could pay your college tuition someday, don’t you dare come to us. We want you to get that scholarship. The summer one is mainly for the younger types, sixth- through ninth-graders who are getting a better understanding of themselves and how to become the player and person they want to become. What’s the game plan to reach more people? We’re going to lower the price point. We’re just not there yet. We’ve kept the price in the middle of these other camps. I won’t go past a 10-to-1 camper-to-coach ratio and like to keep it at 7-to-1 or 8-to-1—that’s expensive because we pay our coaches well. We want a lot of underprivileged kids to come too, so we’re looking to develop a scholarship program. What role did your experience in football play with forming the camp? My career shaped a lot of how I approach life, not just this. I’ve drawn a lot more from my failures and frustrations than my successes. I don’t think anyone has ever heard me say, “I’ve done this; now you need to do it.” The things I was successful with, I found other, better players doing the same thing. I hardly ever use myself as an example. I tend to use my in-depth study of the position instead. [inlinead align="left"]"We never want people to think we’re the coach. We’re trying to build a better foundation for the real coaches to build upon."[/inlinead] But it doesn’t hurt you won a Super Bowl. There’s some credibility there, but I never approach it as, “Hey, I won a Super Bowl. I know what I’m talking about.” I approach it as I played for 14 years, and in those 14 years I played and the eight years after, I’ve done nothing but study the position. I’ve devoted my life to finding a better way to teach things that have been taught before. If I knew then what I know now, I would have had a much better career. I know 500 times more quarterbacking now than when I played. How do you work with the college coaches who get the players after you? That’s the biggest frustration. Early on, a lot of coaches were really intrigued because we were giving them a product so much better than they had before. The problem is so much of college coaching is about credit and politics. Their pride and egos get in the way of receiving all the information to do better with a kid. Most of our kids come back saying they got worse in college. We never want people to think we’re the coach. We’re trying to build a better foundation for the real coaches to build upon. We’ve done that, without a doubt. But as soon as any camp coach thinks they are the real coach, it’s a slap in the face of the high school and college coaches who spend hundreds of hours with these kids. Concussions are obviously a huge issue in football. How do you address that in your camps? During question-and-answer periods, that stuff comes up. When you talk about quarterbacks, I always say the best way to protect yourself is to get rid of the football. The longer you hold onto it, the more chance there is for injury. Tom Brady hasn’t gotten hurt much in his career. Why? Because he gets rid of the football faster than anyone else. We teach the kids to make great and fast decisions, and get the ball out of their hands so they’ll protect themselves and their teammates. [inlinead align="left"]"We never want people to think we’re the coach. We’re trying to build a better foundation for the real coaches to build upon."[/inlinead] Why make LakePoint your base? As we started looking to grow out, we were looking for a home with people who are like-minded. LakePoint fit that bill. And they are building what’s going to be the best-in-the-world full-immersion sports destination place. It was an easy decision. Photo Credit: Jenine Alftin