BILLINGS — For the Lockwood Lions, it’s all about pride.
The football team, which will enter its second year in the fall with freshmen and sophomore players after playing their first season with all freshmen, has been participating in the PRIDE Football Camp at the new Lockwood Lions Stadium.
“A group of Lions is called a pride of lions. Kind of taking pride in yourself, the community and school and taking pride in the program,” said coach Rob DiGiallonardo. “We are a group of lions competing out there, so we are the pride.”
The three-day camp started Monday and concludes Wednesday. In the morning session for grades 3 through 8, 30 kids participated and in the afternoon session there were 27 high school players at the camp, according to DiGiallonardo.
A bonus for those participating is they are running drills on the school’s brand new artificial turf football field. DiGiallonardo said the field is complete, although the rubberized track still has to be installed and work remains where field events such as the high jump and long jump will be held at the stadium.
There is a scoreboard with video capabilities, one “giant set” of bleachers and on the field every other five yards is marked in two different shades of green, said DiGiallonardo.
“It is phenomenal. It is a brand new turf. We have a big lions head in the middle and the end zones are a shaded gray with red lettering and one side says ‘Lockwood’ and the other says ‘Lions’ and the lettering is in red.”
Both this year’s Lions and future Lions football players were excited to be participating in a camp at the new facility. In addition to the new field, DiGiallonardo said Lockwood will have two grass practice football fields on campus.
“We are just super excited to be able to have a camp and be on the turf with everything going on, it’s a huge step for us. It was pretty awesome having the little kids on the turf and all the parents dropping their kids off and the enthusiasm. There is the itch where everyone is ready to see a game on it.
“They (the kids) are loving it and ecstatic. They can’t wait to play the first game. They keep asking me if we get to practice here all the time. They couldn’t be happier.”
Lockwood finished 0-7 last year, but only had 12 or 13 players out, said DiGiallonardo, who explained the team played only one other true freshman team last year in East Helena. Many of the other teams were JV, or a mix of freshmen and sophomores.
The year, the Class A team will play a JV schedule. The team will play varsity in 2021.
“It was little numbers, inexperience, a learning curve,” he said. “We are getting better every day. That’s the goal. The first couple of years I’m instilling in the kids it’s OK as long as we are getting better every day and every week. Next year, when we play a varsity schedule, that’s when we’ll care about our record. These two years, it’s about a tight-knit team and brotherhood.”
With the current coronavirus pandemic, things could change but the Lions are looking forward to their first game Aug. 28 when they host East Helena at 7 p.m.
And, the Lions are eager to demonstrate their pride to the Lockwood community.
“We are super proud and super excited. We can’t thank our community enough for passing the bond and helping us build it,” said DiGiallonardo of the stadium. “The community is ecstatic and we are ecstatic. That is something we talk about every day is making the community proud and showing them we deserved it.”