The Dalles Youth Football League is building a program for the long haul.
Looking to add larger numbers this fall, the organization sprang into action looking to offer chances for boys and girls to develop the love of football.
However, over the past few years in the gorge, many boys and girls under six years old stood on the sidelines while their peers engaged in football.
For the fourth year, they will get the opportunity to toss the pigskin, run for touchdowns and spin and juke their opponents during summer flag football.
The Dalles Youth Football organization has announced its flag football program that is open for children in the first and second grades for play, tentatively for the start of August of 2015.
Online registration is currently open for kids in the first-through-sixth grades.
The early bird price of $80 runs through May 31, and after that date, the cost swells to $100.
New prices have been set for siblings at $75, and the flag rate is still $40.
All athletes have until July 31 to sign up.
At the signup, parents need to furnish a birth certificate and a proof of insurance card.
One athlete who believes in the process of youth football is 2014 The Dalles Wahtonka graduate Chaise Shroll.
The former all-league linebacker and quarterback got his start at Sid White Field playing youth football and credits the first floor of youth athletics that initiated his love of the game.
“I played my first game I was hooked. I love football,” Shroll said. “I had a great time playing with all of those kids then, some of them ended up being my teammates. You get great coaching and you have fun. That’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else.”
It all starts with knowledge, sharpening skills and repetition through games and practices that will breed a better player.
The Dalles High School football head coach Steve Sugg is a big proponent of that sentiment.
“By teaching those kids the basic fundamentals of the game at a young age, it helps them feel more confident in their abilities as they get older,” Sugg said. “It takes the fear factor or apprehension out of the picture because they have already experienced it at a young age and they will be more confident to expand on their abilities as they get older.”
So far, a small amount of athletes have already signed up for play, but between 100 and 150 are expected to join the program.
With talk of injuries and awareness taking center stage in the news, former TDW athlete and Willamette University graduate Ryan Johnston quells those concerns based on his experiences.
“One thing I will say is, coaches need to know and once they do, they will side on caution,” he said. “Too many people worry a coach just wants to win. They care about the players and their safety. In any sport, safety and fun are the most important things that matter. When parents understand that, I think they will worry a lot less.”
The goal of the TDYF is to introduce young players to the game of football, assisting them with developing their athletic abilities and potential, while encouraging good sportsmanship and fun.
TDYF is a volunteer-based organization and counts on parents to assist with hosting games, running concessions, assisting with fundraising activities, and coaching teams.
Player registration dates will also include signups for volunteer opportunities and additional fundraisers for the 2015 season.
For information, visit www.eteamz.com/thedallesyouthfootball.