By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Vikings weren’t practicing Saturday, but their new facility in Eagan was buzzing with football activity. Mike Zimmer held his annual youth camp, which treated kids to a side of the coach not normally seen.

Zimmer was in his element, roaming a football field — but there was something a little different about this time: He was smiling. The famously gruff coach showed his softer side.

“We’ve got 720 kids or something in the two days they’re here, and it’s all free for everybody,” Zimmer said. “But the big thing is, when I’m coaching my team, it’s all about being disciplined and doing things right, being aggressive, and with this, this is about having fun, enjoying the moment.”

It’s hard not to just have fun and enjoy the moment when you’re around this kind of energy — even when you’re a coach used to taking this stuff really seriously.

But there is a more serious goal behind it too — promoting active and healthy lifestyles.

“Really what I want is them having fun,” Zimmer said. “For them to get off the video games, and get off the couch, and go out and play, with their buddies.”

It’s completely free, because Zimmer says that’s how his late wife Vikki Zimmer would have wanted it. All they have to do is sign up on his foundation’s website.

“And, we had so many people both years that it crashed right away,” Zimmer said.

When you get to be coached by the coach of the Vikings, it’s an opportunity kids jump at.

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