BILLINGS — Youth football in the Billings area is partnering with School District 2, effective immediately for a variety of reasons.
Local kids can start playing competitive football in the third grade. With safety issues becoming more and more prevalent, both School District 2 and the Yellowstone Youth Football league want to make sure kids and coaches are doing it right.
Spencer Larsen spent six years in the NFL with the Broncos, Patriots and Bucs, and is now president of YYF.
“We wanted to create something in Billings where a kid in third grade could have a similar experience all the way through high school … where there’s continuity in middle school, continuity in high school, and where we have influence with the middle school coaches down through our league and the high school coaches down in our league, so the terminology is the same, drills are the same, techniques are the same,” said Larsen.
Aside from safety, SD2 activities director Mark Wahl points to kids learning common core values.
“The Billings Public Schools is excited to work with the Yellowstone Youth Football League to support our youth and their development in the game of football,” Wahl said in a media release. “This partnership will promote a safer, more cohesive transition from one level to the next. It will also promote common core values centered around the positive growth of kids and will emphasize the true learning that can take place through participation in sport and a community that works together.”
The thought is, when youth players get to middle school and eventually high school, they’ll recognize the game at each stop and not have to re-learn it.
“Proper technique is missed a lot these days,” said Larsen. “Especially when you watch it on TV, it’s more about the celebration than the actual tackle, so we’re trying to emphasize safety all across the board.”
Both parties also want to pry kids away from video games, which, Larsen admits, have a much more powerful grip today than when he was a kid.
“We want kids to come out and suffer a little bit,” Larsen said, smiling. “Learn how to wear a helmet, be uncomfortable and be cold. All that stuff you learn and grow from because you have adversity, and I think football is a great sport for that.”
Registration is open now for grades 3-6 at www.yellowstoneyouthfootball.org.