OSSIAN – Chandler Harnish believes in using his platform, the one that comes with being an NFL player. So why not take it to his backyard?
As he gathered the Norwell High School players for their help with the youth camp Monday, he reminded them they're role models to the younger kids. And there were plenty of younger kids – 178 third through eighth graders, to be exact.
It was the first Colts-sponsored free Norwell youth camp, with Norwell's most well-known football alum in charge.
“I've told this to a lot of people, but I feel the Lord put me in position, with a platform to spread my influence, and this is one of those tools,” Harnish said. “I want to do whatever I can do to make these kids better people and better players and get them ready for the future. And have some fun. That's the No.1 rule of this camp, to have fun.”
Harnish, 24, is a busy man these days. He'll report to the Colts training facility in Indianapolis on Wednesday, three days before the start of full training camp in Anderson, in order to throw with the early-reporting rookies.
But his first two days this week were tied up with running the camp. Harnish said he wants to do his part to generate some excitement for Norwell football. The program finished as the Class 3A state runnerup in 2006, Harnish's senior season. The last couple years have been lean – the Knights lost 22 straight before winning two sectional games last fall.
Because Harnish's brother, Piercen, is quarterback of the current squad, he has some vested interest.
Chandler Harnish was approved earlier in the year as a Norwell volunteer assistant coach, so he can come and go and use the weight room and – when possible – inject some of the Colts' winning vibe.
It was the Colts, in fact, who suggested sponsoring the camp, and they brought the Play60 setup that usually doesn't venture so far outside of Indianapolis.
Harnish invited some of his old high school teammates to return for the camp, and 10 of them helped run stations on Monday, along with players from the current team who are in the middle of team camp.
“This is something I hope goes over really well and can get the kids excited for and have a great time,” Harnish said. “When I was their age, I would have jumped out of my shoes to come out here with college players and an NFL guy and have fun and learn and compete and just walk away with a good taste in your mouth about Norwell football.”
As for the Colts, Harnish said he enters training camp with the mindset of competing. Obviously, Andrew Luck is the starting quarterback and likely takes every snap. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck joined the team as a free agent.
But Harnish's mindset is one that he hopes to pass on to the younger players, that striving to be their best is a goal unto itself.
“I've always believed competition breeds success and I'm going to go in there and play like I'm the one leading the team,” Harnish said. “If I can make that (quarterback) room better, I've made the team better. I'm looking for personal improvement every day, to become a better leader on and off the field and prove I can be a trustworthy guy.”
Judging from the way Harnish organized his first camp, leadership is already a strong suit.