When Nick Sirianni was a student at Southwestern Central School in the late 1990s, his summer vacation included attending up to three different basketball camps.
''We always wanted to do basketball stuff,'' he said.
As for football?
Above, Nicki Sirianni, an assistant coach with the Kansas City Chiefs, gives instructions during the Sirianni Skills Football Camp at Southwestern Central School on Friday afternoon.
Sirianni chats with Jamestown High School football coach Tom Langworthy.
P-J photos by Scott Kindberg
Jamestown High School’s Chris Carlson catches a pass during the Sirianni Skills Football Camp on Friday afternoon at Southwestern Central School.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
Well, he lifted weights and worked out daily, regularly catching passes from his buddy, Steve Milliner, who happened to be the Trojans' quarterback. Still, the idea of attending a football camp - something relatively unknown in these parts back then - wasn't even on his radar.
''Basketball (camp),'' Nick said, ''was easy to do.''
About a dozen years later, though, it's football that is his meal ticket.
From Southwestern to Division III national power Mount Union to Division II Indiana University-Pennsylvania, Nick, 29, has steadily climbed the coaching ladder and is about to begin his second season as the offensive quality control/assistant quarterbacks coach with the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League.
In 2009, the Chiefs finished 4-12 under first-year head coach Todd Haley, but Nick said ''you could see the atmosphere around there changing,'' capped by a season-ending victory at Denver.
''I've been lucky being around good coaches my whole life,'' said Nick before the start of the Sirianni Skills Football Camp he conducted with his brothers, Mike and Jay, at Charles A. Lawson Stadium on Friday afternoon. ''But being around Todd, who is a great coach, you learn so much about the organizational part of things and learn how to do things the right way.''
As the offensive quality control coach, Nick is responsible for breaking down all the opponents' game film.
''I'll have to determine what the down and distance is, what formation the offense is in, what play the offense ran and what play the defense ran,'' Nick said. '' ... If you have great time-management skills, you'll get through it.
In addition, Nick also works closely with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who joined Haley's staff this winter. Weis, who most recently was the head coach at Notre Dame, is credited with developing New England quarterback Tom Brady when the former was on the Patriots' staff. Together, Weis and Nick interviewed quarterbacks in the weeks leading up to the NFL draft, including top overall pick Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen and Tim Tebow.
''Obviously, with Charlie Weis in there now, he's great, too,'' Nick said. ''I've been fortunate enough to learn from very, very good coaches who are known as the best coaches in the world. I've learned a lot, not only about football, but the organization of football, the way you run a team. ... We did improve so much (as the season went along), and that's exciting going into this year.''
Nick is on vacation until the end of the month when the Chiefs open their training camp. Their regular-season opener is Sept. 13 when they entertain San Diego on Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
''I'm optimistic and excited,'' he said.
About the only thing Nick misses is being able to see the successes of his older brothers.
Southwestern has won back to back New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C championships, while W&J has routinely been one of the best Division III programs in the country.
In fact, last fall it wasn't unusual for Nick to be monitoring the progress of his high school alma mater on his computer or his iPhone.
''I had coaches at Kansas City following (Southwestern), too,'' he said. ''It was exciting. Obviously, I didn't get to see them play, but it was awesome following them, rooting for them and seeing all the success they've been having.''
That's what made yesterday's skills camp - attended by more than 60 youngsters from Kane, Pa., to Orchard Park - such a pleasure for the Siriannis.
''It's fun to get out here and do these things,'' Nick said, ''and it's fun to see the young talent and teach them some skills you've learned over the years and give it back to them.''