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Safety first for Wildcats youth football

Posted: August 9, 2013 9:44 p.m.
Updated: August 9, 2013 9:44 p.m.

Haden Trowbridge runs a play during practice with the Santa Clarita Wildcats youth football team Monday at College of the Canyons.

 

 

The Santa Clarita Youth Sports Association Wildcats began eight years ago as an organization with one main goal — to make the game of football both fun and safer for the valley’s youth.

The Wildcats put an emphasis on narrower weight and age discrepancies between divisions.

“We just try to make sure the ages and weights are closer together. It’s not a huge span. As safe as we can possibly be. The best equipment, instruction, weight distribution. But it is still a contact sport,” said SCYSA President Matt Flynn.

Flynn said the organization also emphasizes skilled coaching, to offer better instruction and a higher knowledge of the game.

“We would have guys that coached at College of the Canyons, currently or past. Coaching in college or played in the past. Currently coaches in high school or have coached in high school. I don’t know if it’s unique,” he said. “We try to strive to have the best coaches. If you have the best coaches it’s easy to fill up the players. We never have any problem with players because our coaches are so good.”

Over the years, the Wildcats have fluctuated in size, and have settled at 170 kids spread across eight teams for the 2013 season.

In its infancy, the Wildcats began with four teams and ballooned to as many as 17 before field space issues forced that number down to its current eight.

The organization has also put an emphasis on encouraging younger kids to play the game, with over 100 kids 10 and under in the organization.

Flynn says the organization hasn’t had trouble filling its 170 spots, and has encouraged kids to seek opportunities at other local youth organizations if they cannot accommodate them at Wildcats.

As one of three Golden Coast Youth Football programs in the Santa Clarita Valley, along with the Santa Clarita Grizzlies and Saugus Spartans, the Wildcats pull kids primarily from the Valencia, West Ranch and Hart high school areas.

The organization said it doesn’t work directly with the programs, nor does it shape its offensive and defensive scheme to match the local high schools.

“I think they’re too young. I tell parents all the time they’re going to remember if they had fun or scored a touchdown or had a good experience. They won’t remember the details of it. Our goal is that they want to come back to play next year.”

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