BOZEMAN — Before the new Van Winkle Stadium was built in 2019, the field located across the street was the old stomping grounds for Bozeman High and the only field Seahawks tight end Will Dissly had ever known.
That's why deciding the location for Friday's youth football camp was simple.
“This is home for me," Dissly stated about the old Van Winkle Stadium. "They haven’t mowed it since I’ve been back, but it’s cool. We won the state championship here, and it’s just a lot of good memories for me. You know, this is where I did my camps. This is where I did my practices, so it’s just good to be back.”
It’s been nearly ten years since the Bozeman native — or Uncle Willl as many like to call him — last played a game on the old Van Winkle field, but on Friday he made his return holding a free football camp for local kids from first through eighth grade.
“Uncle Will is not a credit to me," Dissly smiled. "John Schneider called me that when I got drafted. (I'm) just trying to live up to it and bestow some wisdom. I’m now the old guy in the locker room, so even though they’re 21 I’m still their uncle, and even in first or fourth grade I’m still their uncle.”
To make sure he lived up to "uncle" expectations, the Bozeman native wanted to make sure the kids left Friday's camp with a valuable life skill: fly fishing.
“During halftime of the camp we took a break from football and we tried to learn about what this pretty place of Bozeman, Montana has to offer and just getting these kids interested," he explained. "I had one kid say I’ve never fly-fished, but now I kind of want to do it, and that was really the whole goal was to just show them that there’s more to football.”
As a former Bozeman Hawk who has made it on football's biggest stage, the only word of advice he had to share Friday was have fun.
“That’s kind of why I don’t do skills camps," Dissly shared. "I played sports just because it was fun, and so if that’s your goal to get to the NFL I hope it happens for you, but my proudest accomplishment is I made some super awesome friends along the way and had a ton of fun doing it. Just fortunate to keep playing the sport that I love, and hope they can get there, too.”