Woodbury football: Flag bearersFor more than 15 years the Woodbury Athletic Association has put a number of flag football teams on the field and 2011 will be no exception as 16 first and second grade teams start their season on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at Lake Middle School.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, Woodbury Bulletin
It’s almost football season.
For more than 15 years the Woodbury Athletic Association has put a number of flag football teams on the field and 2011 will be no exception as 16 first and second grade teams start their season on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at Lake Middle School.
The fun, but competitive, introductory flag football league runs from early August to the middle of October and is managed by Jeff Wynia, the WAA flag football director.
“It’s just about getting kids on the field, teaching them the game of football and having some fun,” said John Griffin, WAA football director for the past 15 years. “Everyone gets to touch the ball and everyone gets to run around and parents get to come out and cheer. It’s the first chance for them to learn the game. When they get to third grade things begin to change and speed up.”
In metro area communities, flag football is becoming what t-ball has been to baseball for decades. The WAA used to have flag football for first through fourth grade, with tackle becoming available for third and fourth graders as well. However, roughly five years ago, flag football was limited to first and second graders in Woodbury.
“We found that players who played only flag football in third and fourth grade and didn’t start tackle football until fifth grade were really behind a player that played tackle football for two years already,” Griffin said. “I know there were some reservations the first year, but it’s not even a thought now.”
The WAA flag football league is a seven-on-seven format on a shortened field. Each team has roughly 10 players and plays each other once, with the season culminating with an end-of-the-year playoff tournament. The flag football league costs $95 and includes jerseys, nine games and weekly practices.
The WAA football program is a nonprofit volunteer organization serving roughly 500 Woodbury area football players from first through eighth grade. The program includes three levels — Flag Football (grades 1 and 2), Tackle (grades 3 through 6) and Junior High (grades 7 and 8).
The mission of the WAA football program is to teach and encourage good sportsmanship and fair play through the promotion and support of football for the young people in the community. WAA says it is fundamentally committed to the development of character and sportsmanship and believes that an athletic contest is an educational experience. Under the guidelines of the WAA football board, the coaches are instructed to instill in their players the elements of fairness, teamwork, self-control, courtesy and respect for the rules of the game as well as the other participants and officials in the sport.
“We have a lot of great coaches and great people that help run the program,” Griffin said. “It all starts with them. The parents that help out with the flag football end up helping at the tackle program and all the way up for the most part. Flag football is kind of their start too and we really appreciate all they do.”