Get On The Gridiron: Dexter Youth Football League Poised for 2012 Season
Registration for the Dexter Youth Football League is ongoing through August. The league is open to students in third through sixth grade.
Registration for the Dexter Youth Football League is underway, and recruiting efforts are ramping up for students in the third through sixth grade at Dexter Community Schools.
"We're looking forward to a pretty fun season," Matt Parachek, league president said.
Parachek said the league's goal is to provide an outlet for younger athletes to learn football fundamental skills in preparation for playing on junior varsity and varsity teams at Dexter High School.
"We want to feed the high school sports program with kids," he said. "The varsity team has gotten a lot better because students are developing skills at an early age, and by the time they get to high school they are that much more further advanced."
Some of the skills league members learn include rules of the game, proper hitting and tackling, and safety.
Safety is one area receiving a lot of media attention in recent months, after more than 2,000 former NFL players launched a suit alleging they weren't warned about long-term risks of concussions associated with football. Even former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner has labeled the notion of his two school-age sons playing football a "scary thing" and says he'd prefer they didn't.
Dexter parent Wendy Martin was one parent leery of the sport's safety, but after attending several practices with her son Jack last year, she said she's had a change of heart.
"Like most parents, I was leery of my third grader playing tackle football, but after watching the practices, I saw its a much slower paced game for the younger kids. Coaches spend a lot of time educating players about padding and protection," she said. "They really have a strong focus on safety and technique. Players aren't getting laid out on the field. I was so relieved to see that the games weren't as rough as I thought and my son had a blast."
Parachek said the league's coaches are required to complete an online course in concussion detection and treatment prior to the start of the season.
"The biggest problem with head injuries is not detecting the injury and putting a player back in the game too early, which causes a secondary injury," he said. "Moms know football from what they see on TV, but when it comes down to it, football is the best sport for learning teamwork. Each player has a job and if they don't do it, the play won't be successful. Football teaches a lot of good lessons that far outweigh the safety issue if it's a well-run program."
So far registration has been lighter than previous years. In 2011, the league had 85 kids — enough for two 4th grade teams and four 5th and 6th grade teams.
"We're hoping for at least 100 kids so we can increase the number of teams this year," Parachek said.
Registration can be completed online at www.dexteryouthfootball.com. Player fees are $195 between June 9 and Aug. 26, and $215 between Aug. 26 and Sept. 9.
A Dreadnaught football camp will take place June 19-20 from 6-8:30 p.m. at Creekside Intermediate School. Pre-season drop-in practices will also take place on Aug. 7, Aug. 9, Aug. 14, Aug. 16, Aug. 21, and Aug. 23. Players must be registered in order to participate in the preseason voluntary practices.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org. Practice officially begins in August, with games beginning the third week of September. Cheerleader coaches for a girls' youth cheerleader program are also needed.