NFL Youth Football: A breath of fresh air

The opportunities for children to participate in sports are endless. Leagues and programs of all types are available throughout the country. Having spent 30 years involved in amateur sports at all levels, including college, I have seen and heard it all – good and bad.

My parents provided me with the opportunity to play sports. I developed a love affair with baseball that is still strong today. It began with the innocence of t-ball and continued through the competitiveness of high school and college. I have also coached and officiated baseball, allowing me to see the game from a whole different perspective.

As a parent, I take great pride in providing my kids the opportunity to play sports. I think very important life lessons are learned through participating in athletics. However, finding the right league or team can be a difficult task.

The Ohio Youth Flag Football Association is a recreational league for boys and girls that is affiliated with the NFL. The league commissioner is Cecil Doggette, a 14-year veteran of the NFL, NFL Europe and Arena Football League. Doggette also spent two years as an assistant coach with the AFL’s Columbus Destroyers.

My son began playing in the league this past fall. The experience has been absolutely wonderful. The entire organization is first class, and it starts at the top. Doggette is approachable and great with the kids. The enthusiasm he shows at every event proves that he himself is a kid at heart.

The fall season began with a draft party, mimicking the hype of the NFL draft. Each child has their name announced and gets to take their place at the front of the room with their teammates. The kids also receive a contract. Everyone has a great time!

The program focuses on giving the kids “life skills” and is backed by the moniker, Kids F.I.R.S.T (Fun Instruction Respect Sportsmanship Teamwork). Everyone involved in the league practices what they preach. My son is currently in his third session of football and we could not be happier.

After having such a great experience with football, my son has decided to add basketball to his activity list. We were pleased to sign him up for the Jr. NBA league, also run by Doggette.

We will continue to be involved in this wonderful organization for as long as my son wants to play. Seeing the joy on his face when he scores a touchdown is something that my limited writing skills cannot describe.


Remembering September 11, 2001

Finding the balance between grief and perseverance is a challenging task when dealing with a tragedy such as the attack on our country eight years ago. Americans should never forget what happened and the lives that were lost. We should also continue our way of life because, if we don’t, the terrorists succeeded.

On September 11, 2001, The Today Show filled my television screen as I ate breakfast and prepared to leave the house. At the time, I worked at the YMCA and planned to exercise before my shift began around noon. My wife, a registered nurse, was already at work.

I remember calling my dad and asking him if he had seen that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. How in the world could a pilot hit one of the towers? I hung up the phone, walked downstairs, and noticed that now both towers were engulfed in flames. The second tower had been hit.

I called him back and we both immediately knew that this was no accident. America was under attack. When I called my wife, she said that some people were talking about nurses going to New York to help care for victims. That plan was never carried out, as many health professionals in the area waited to help people that never came.

On my way to work, news broke of the Pentagon attack and the plane crash in Pennsylvania. I couldn’t contact my dad anymore due to cell service being overloaded. I kept in contact with my wife and mom throughout the day.

One of the things that sticks out in my mind was standing on the deck that night and looking up at the sky. It was so calm and peaceful, a far cry from the horrors roughly 12 hours earlier.

Our way of life had changed in a matter of hours. The days and weeks to come were filled with making an emergency supply box and fears of a biological terror attack. You couldn’t open mail without thinking of it being laced with anthrax.

The sports world came to a halt, then was resurrected as part of the healing process and a return to normalcy. Safety was definitely a concern, but sports helped a lot of people cope with the tragedy.

When sounds of the Star-Spangled Banner filled a stadium, it was almost a surreal experience. Some people cheered and some people cried. There was no right or wrong response. God Bless America was often the song of choice during the seventh-inning stretch at baseball games.

As the years have passed, it is disappointing to see that many people have seemingly tried to forget about the event known as “9/11”. It disgusts me to see people not stand for the national anthem. Many kids know nothing about what happened that fateful day.

Do not allow the innocent people who died that day to be forgotten. Pray for the safety of the men and women of our armed forces. Do not let your political affiliation affect what should be your most important alliance – that of being an American.