SLIDESHOW: Are You Ready for Some Junior Football?
There is not going to be a strike in Junior Football this year. All the players, coaches and management have agreed to play and work together. So everyone must be happy with their salaries, right? WRONG! There are no salaries of any kind because everyone volunteers. Yes, people giving of their time, freely and willingly.
Also interesting, only half of the coaches actually have kids that play in the program, so it’s the love of the game that keeps them coaching and teaching young people. The football players themselves, ages 7-14 also give their time to the program. They could be at home playing video games, watching TV, be on Facebook, texting, hanging out, or many other things. Instead they put on their uniforms and go to practice and games. That goes for the cheer squad too. Being involved in sports is very important at this age.
That’s where they learn about teamwork, make new friends and learn how to win and lose. As for the parents, it gives them the “that’s my kid” feeling. For friends or family it’s the knowledge of knowing someone playing in the game, it’s all good.
The Southwest Athletic Club (SWAC) does all that very well. Within SWAC there are a total of 5 football teams and 1 cheer squad. The 5 teams are divided by a player’s age, experience and size. It is NOT divided into male or female because there are 6 girls that play alongside the boys as teammates.
Their home field is Southwest Athletic Complex, across from Chief Sealth High School.
It is important to keep in mind the reason why SWAC exists. Their mission statement addresses it perfectly: “Our mission is to provide fundamental instruction in football and cheer for youth. We primarily serve the West Seattle and Burien areas but welcome anyone wishing to participate in our program.
At SWAC, we believe consistent practice and participation in weekly football games allows our youth to learn and experience: integrity, teamwork, discipline, sportsmanship, respect, leadership, trust, and commitment. Learning these values and virtues are important to their growth and to them becoming active members of our community. Participating in youth sports provides a unique opportunity to experience all of them.”
SWAC plays in the South Puget Sound Junior Football League along with 8 other franchises. The others are Auburn, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Kent, Maple Valley, Puyallup, Renton and Sumner. So they have some distance to travel for their away games.
Safety is very important to the coaches, the league and of course to the parents. The “Zackery Lystedt Law” was signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire on May 14th, 2009. It is the nation's toughest youth athlete return-to-play law. It was introduced to protect players from injury and it is enforced. SWAC works with
Doctors from West Seattle Family Medicine to teach their coaches ways to help prevent injuries and they also provide medical staff on the sidelines during games. It is all in the best interest of the players.
SWAC President, Eric Larse said ”Kids come with different skills and difficulties, with various levels of interest and knowledge for the game. If you asked all the kids if they were football players they would say yes. You coach every child individually. The beauty of football is it can be for athletic and non-athletic kids.
They just need to get over their fear of being hit and have some aggressiveness. Football pads and equipment is designed for players in an aggressive position or posture. Players can get injured if they don’t have the proper mentality for the game. If there are any safety issues they may not practice or play in the games, it is up to the coaches.”
If you would like to attend a SWAC game or want additional information check out their website at: www.swaccougars.org