SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, Va. (WFXR) — The Roanoke Catholic football team is carrying on a unique tradition in the way they are preparing for the 2023 season. For nearly a quarter of a century, Roanoke Catholic football players have been making the nearly 1-hour trip to the W.E. Skelton 4-H Center at Smith Mountain Lake. For three days, the preseason camp is all about helping the team get ready for the season.

“We actually started to come down here under the leadership of Paul Moyer who I was an assistant for back in 1999 and we have started to come down here and the kids enjoy it. I feel that we have gotten a lot out of it over the years and it has continued it,” said Roanoke Catholic head coach Bob Price.

“Well, obviously this is my first time coming to camp coming out here. I have been playing here for the last three years. I have been going to camp for basketball. This is my first time and this has been amazing so far,” senior Jalen Merchant.

“I am happy to be doing it. This is my third year doing it on this team. Every year being down here every year,” said senior Caleb Deduloaus-Deeds.

The three-day camp is an opportunity for the football team to get away from the Roanoke area, learn a lot about football as well as bonding as a team which is a key thing to have a successful season.

“Hard work, team bonding, you stay with your brothers. You can’t be on your phone. These are your brothers for real,” said Merchant.

As for the players and the coaches, they are excited about being down here at Smith Mountain Lake for this camp. One thing they are more excited about is the number of players on the team. the numbers have been slim over the last few years. But having more players is bringing more excitement and optimism for the 2023 Roanoke Catholic Celtics.

“It is exciting to have more people to help out. Someone goes down and the next person goes in and to help the other person when they are ready. It is always nice to have more people,” said Deduloaus-Deeds.

“It is hard being at a small school and if you get about a 3rd of the population of the school to come out for football and we are doing well,” said Price.

“There is a lot more we can do and what we can put in. So we have a lot of numbers. You have 11 players on both sides of the football. It is easier to get a lot of things done,” said Merchant.

Roanoke Catholic opens up the season on August 25th at St. Anne-Belfield.