p.m., Aug. 29)
New program teaches football fundamentals to six- and seven-year-olds
By Fred Sherwin
youngsters in the Cumberland Panthers new Mite program go head to head during
a blocking drill at one of their recent practices. Fred Sherwin/Photo
Adam Kerr has only been playing tackle football for four weeks, but he's
already learned the defensive player's credo, "It's better to hit than
to be hit."
like getting to tackle," admitted Kerr sporting the number 44 on the
back of his jersey in honour of his cousin Mike Molinski who played middle
linebacker for the Cumberland Panthers and the St. Peter Knights.
Kerr is among
32 youngsters who have signed up for the Cumberland Panthers new mite program
for six and seven-year-olds.
program was established by the Panthers organization to give the younger
kids an opportunity to learn some of the football basics before they try
out for the tyke program.
A team of about
five or six volunteer coaches patiently work with the kids every Tuesday
and Thursday night and early Saturday morning. Veteran head coach Jeff Karady
runs the drills and makes sure that the kids are not only learning the fundamentals
but having fun as well.
them the fundamentals of football, the rules of the game, the discipline
of the game, and making sure that it's a whole bunch of fun," says
Karady who spent most of the summer coaching the Panthers' junior varsity
in the program are a real mix. Some, like Kerr, have been around football
ever since they could walk, while others may have only played flag football
in the spring and are being exposed to tackle football for the first time.
Quite a few have older siblings who have been playing football for several
Mites coach Jeff Karady directs one of the players through a series of cones
during a running drill. Fred Sherwin/photo
7, was hoping to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Javontae and
play for the Cumberland tyke squad this fall. When he didn't make the team
his father Mike signed him up for the mite program.
they had something like this when I was a kid. This is fantastic,"
says Nelson. "They're getting a real grounding in the sport. Imagine
when these kids tryout for tyke next year."
the kids the football basics, the coaches also stress safety which means
making sure the kids put their helmets on properly and have their mouth
guards in their rmouths and not hanging from the bottom of their face masks.
registered her seven-year-old son Matthew.in the program after he bugged
her about playing football for months.
at school are all into football so he really wanted to play. Before they
created the mite program we didn't think he would be able to make the tyke
team, so this is great, it teaches the kids everything they need to know
to get to the next level," says Malouin.
the basics like how to hold the football properly when you're running and
how to get into a three point stance, the kids also learn the proper ways
to block and tackle and how to throw a football properly.
All the practices
are geared to the kids' capacity to pick up each skill.
really dictate how the practices evole. The more they pick up and the more
they understand it, the more we can do," says Karady.
Judging by how
much the kids have managed to pick up so far, the Panthers can look forward
to many more years of success.
see additional Cumberland Mites pictures click here
was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
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