Pee Wee Football a kick for parents and kids

"POULSBO - The first day of practice found Paul Stock with sweat darkening his shirt and a football-shaped pendant dangling from a chain around his neck. Stock was just one of the many young athletes gathered on Hamilton Field Monday afternoon, going through a grueling first practice for North Kitsap Pee Wee Football. Behind Stock, coaches had potential football players leap over pylons, drop to the ground, and run in place. Later in the practice I'll yell, one coach threatened - and judging from their headlight-sized eyes, the players believed him. Stock, a grizzled veteran at age 10, is starting his third season. I've always liked football, he said. I like the contact, the hitting, just being out there playing. And I know three-quarters of the kids playing. Stock said he wanted to play football even before he was eligible. I waited for a long time to do this, he said. Stock said that playing helped him relate to the game more. After your first year, when you see a famous player, you've played that position. When they're on the one-yard line you know it. You've been on the one-yard line. Stock enjoys playing defense, carrying the ball, and making plays. And, like those NFL heroes, he has a season goal. I'd like to win a championship if I could, he said. Pee Wee Football in North Kitsap is made up of four teams - A, B, C and D strings, plus a flag football team for younger kids. "

“POULSBO – The first day of practice found Paul Stock with sweat darkening his shirt and a football-shaped pendant dangling from a chain around his neck. Stock was just one of the many young athletes gathered on Hamilton Field Monday afternoon, going through a grueling first practice for North Kitsap Pee Wee Football. Behind Stock, coaches had potential football players leap over pylons, drop to the ground, and run in place. Later in the practice I’ll yell, one coach threatened – and judging from their headlight-sized eyes, the players believed him. Stock, a grizzled veteran at age 10, is starting his third season. I’ve always liked football, he said. I like the contact, the hitting, just being out there playing. And I know three-quarters of the kids playing. Stock said he wanted to play football even before he was eligible. I waited for a long time to do this, he said. Stock said that playing helped him relate to the game more. After your first year, when you see a famous player, you’ve played that position. When they’re on the one-yard line you know it. You’ve been on the one-yard line. Stock enjoys playing defense, carrying the ball, and making plays. And, like those NFL heroes, he has a season goal. I’d like to win a championship if I could, he said. Pee Wee Football in North Kitsap is made up of four teams – A, B, C and D strings, plus a flag football team for younger kids. The ages of the participants run from 5-14. They practice three days a week and play a game each Saturday. Although Pee Wee Sports offer baseball and basketball as well as football, they are trying to promote football, and increase the number of kids running, jumping and tackling at Hamilton Field. Poulsbo’s Melanie Dalton, a parent, is one of their converts. I saw them playing in the mud one year, and I thought, ‘I’d never want my kid doing that.’ Dalton laughed. Here I am, eating my words. Dalton’s son Christopher is entering his third year. Dalton said that when Christopher wanted to join Pee Wee Football, she made him promise to stick with it for at least two weeks. At first, he didn’t want to. He was scared of getting hurt, she said, adding that Christopher would disappear into the bathroom and not want to come out – not wanting to play. But Christopher did, and became confident and skilled – He got thirsty for blood and loved it, Dalton said. Now that two-week commitment has stretched into three years. Melanie still isn’t a huge football fan – I do it for the kids, she said – but appreciates its value more. I was worried about the safety part. I was the first one to say they shouldn’t be playing, they’re too young. Now I’m totally for it. Her safety worries vanished, Dalton said, once she saw the kids in all their padding. They looked like sofas, she said. Dalton said football gives kids more attributes than a sudden resemblance to living-room furniture. We’re not grooming a football person, she said, but football has discipline, and it has the most family support of any sport. Family support is also the reason Craig Webster got involved. This is Webster’s fourth year as a coach in the program. He began when his son, Cody, joined. I offered to help the coach, he said. and I ended up being one. Webster laughed, but the position fit him fine. I love it, he said. I’ve coached wrestling at North Kitsap and baseball with little league. That’s what I do. I like any program that helps kids. I’m into helping kids. Areas where Pee Wee Football helps kids include discipline, coordination, and exercise, Webster said. It also keeps them away from the television, Webster said. It keeps them active, it keeps them healthy, and they have fun doing it, Webster said. The teams will spend the next few weeks getting into shape, practicing plays, and working on their blocking skills. They will first take the field in the first week of September for a jamboree. Then they will start playing teams from other districts, including Chico, East Bremerton, South Kitsap, Silverdale, and Bainbridge Island. “

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