Young football players gather around their coaches to break out and move to the next station. The Duke City Gladiators, and some youth coaches, volunteered to help run this youth camp. (Daniel Zuniga photo)

The Duke City Gladiators hosted a youth camp at the Rio Rancho Events Center in November.

Kids from Rio Rancho and Albuquerque came together to escape the cold and be coached by Indoor Football League (IFL) professionals.

“We decided to make good use of our field here, and have the kids come out and hopefully learn a thing or two,” Gladiators owner Gina Prieskorn-Thomas said.

The youth camp was free to all participants and included football players ages 5-14.

“The two mayors from Albuquerque and Rio Rancho worked together so that we could have a place to play football, and now we can do so many great things using this facility,” Prieskorn-Thomas said.

The Gladiators constantly run youth camps, teddy bear distributions, initiatives for schools and many other social outreach events.

“I own this team for the community, plus, I love football – ‘Replacements’ is my favorite movie all-time — because if you give somebody a feeling of greatness, then it becomes generational,” Prieskorn-Thomas said.

Gladiators quarterback Nate Davis coaches young players through football drills. Davis was the IFL MVP in 2021. (Daniel Zuniga)

Youth football coaches, Gladiator players and Gladiator coaches volunteered to help run the camp, including star quarterback Nate Davis.

“I came here in 2019 coming into the 2020 season. I was very big on Gina because she was very big in the community and she preaches, and preaches, about being community champs,” Davis said.

In 2021, he earned first-team All-IFL honors and was the league’s MVP.

“Our knowledge, and our experience, can help these kids come a long way and hopefully a step closer to accomplishing their big goals,” Davis said.

Davis played college football at Ball State and was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL draft.

“As a kid growing up, that’s where everyone wants to be, in the NFL, and then making it was a dream come true,” he said.

The Duke City Gladiators will kick off their season March 25.

“I am looking forward to a freaking championship this season!” Prieskorn-Thomas said.