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Football for both boys and girls

NFL flag football program coming to city this fall thanks to YMCA

2010 YMCA NFL FLAG FOOTBALL When: Saturdays from Sept. 11 to Oct. 30 Where: Veterans Park, Lake Geneva How to sign up: Contact the YMCA at (262) 248-6211 before Aug. 15 deadline Who: Open to all kindergarten through sixth-grade boys and girls in the surrounding communities How much: $40 fee covers two flags, mouthguard and free authentic NFL jersey
August 04, 2010 | 08:35 AM
Every day at recess, what sounds like thousands of kids can be heard hooting, howling and seen hustling during football at Central-Denison Middle School.

Eight-year-old Jackson Biller is one of those football fanatics, and his dad Glenn along with the Lake Geneva YMCA is pioneering a co-ed flag football league for kindergarteners through sixth-graders in Lake Geneva this fall.

The league is sponsored by the National Football League, and those who register by the Aug. 15 deadline will receive a free NFL jersey to wear in games. However, those not signed up by that date will still be able to play, but will receive a T-shirt instead.

Glenn, 40, who coaches both the Badger boys and girls swim teams, said he noticed the league a few years back in Michigan.

"I was visiting my sister in Michigan about three years back," he said. "There were a bunch of kids playing flag football on the playground and wearing NFL jerseys. Finally, this summer, Sherri Baker (YMCA) and I found out what we had to do to get it up and running. My kids are getting to be old enough to play, and they are really interested in football."

Along with Jackson, Carter is 6 and would be eligible for the kindergarten through second-grade division.

There are two other divisions, third- and fourth-graders and fifth- and sixth-graders. Glenn is a volunteer at the YMCA and worked there for several years.

Glenn added that it only costs $40 per kid, and that covers a jersey, mouthpiece and two flags.

"The NFL organizes the whole thing for us, and it's really inexpensive," Glenn said. "Why not give it a shot? It's non-contact and there isn't a lot of equipment. The idea is for the kids to eventually play at Badger. I think a lot more kids would be interested in high school football if they had that spark when they're young."

Glenn said all kids from any area can participate, as the program is also through the city's recreation department. Play will start Sept. 11. The youngest age group will involve parent-coaching and will be more of a learning stage, but there will be scrimmaged games.

The older groups will practice for roughly two weeks then get into games. Glenn is excited boys and girls will participate.

"The high school girls love Powder Puff, and now they can play flag football," he said.

Also, Glenn hopes to incorporate NFL team names and start a Bears-Packers rivalry.

"I have to throw that out there," he said. "I'm not sure, though, because I don't want kids crying about being on a team they hate."

The league will run Saturdays until Oct. 30. The field will be 70 yards long, and it isn't your usual set of downs. There is a halfway mark designated on the field that a team must cross in four downs. There are certain areas on the field where a team must run and where a team must pass.

"It's a high-scoring game," Glenn said. "Once we get a year under our belts, it should become a huge program."

Right now, Glenn is having a hard time getting the word out.

There are enough kids in K-2 for four teams, but there are still openings for the older kids. Glenn said the goal is to have 40 kids in each division, which would make for four teams each. The games are five-on-five.

Kids will also receive tutelage from Badger coaches Mac McBride and Matt Hensler, who hope to instill the Badger system into some of the younger kids so they are polished by high school.

"Getting kids exposed to Badger football early is key," Glenn said. "That way, they can move right up the chain to the high school level."

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