Wild Tales of Youth Football in Montana
Many of us take for granted that we have enough kids to play on our youth football teams, that we have a league to play in and fields to play on. That isn’t necessarily the case in all parts of the country.
Last week after the private coaches clinic I did in Laurel Montana (Billings), I took the family to do some horseback riding outside a neat little place called Absarokee. It is a remote Montana town about an hour north of Yellowstone Park and absolutely beautiful with gorgeous unspoiled mountains, trees, clean fast moving rocky streams and rivers and plenty of wildlife. Wanda the owner was a very accommodating lady, taking our small group on short notice. As she saddled up the horses for our little jaunt, she asked me what I do and what I was there for. When she found out I was a “football” guy she shared with me a number of her local youth football experiences.
Her son is quite the rodeo athlete and attended College on a full ride rodeo scholarship, BUT his first love is football. When he was young all he could talk about was playing football, the only problem is the local High School has just over 100 students and there just isn’t the population to support a youth team. Well Wanda didn’t let that stop her, her plan was to recruit enough local kids so they could put together a team and have a place for this son and her two others to play football. While this may seem simple, Montana and much of very rural America has much to offer and quite often youth football or organized team sports of any kind are difficult in finding support. She organized a “group bonding” event for her son and some of his friends as well as some of the kids they thought they could talk into playing youth football. It was the Montana version of a football recruiting event.
Creative Youth Football Recruiting
Montana is certainly in a league of its own when it comes to individualism and the outdoors.
Well the boys game to a Y in the path so one group went to the left and one group went to the right. The group to the left went about 50 yards and came up upon a bear, a very large bear. They ran to where their other buddies were at and breathlessly told them of their great find. The other group didn’t believe them, so together this band of future youth football players went back to where the bear was last seen. Sure enough they came back up upon this bear to everyones delight. One of the boys told the rest of the group he had a bear ‘tag” at home, which allows him the right to shoot one bear.
The group came up with the idea to tree the bear so their friend could run back to his house, get a proper rifle and shoot the bear. Using their 22 Rifles, noise and youthful determination, they treed the bear. Meanwhile their buddy with the bear tag ran home over 2 miles, got his rifle, an ATV and his all important bear tag and hightailed it back to his friends. The excited AND frightened buddies had done their job keeping the bear in the tree so the young 11 year old bear hunter could get his bear. They brought it back to his home on the ATV, to everyones amazement. According to Wanda the game warden said the bears skull was the largest he had ever seen.
Team Bonding Montana Style
Now how many of us can say their youth football teams have bonded like this? Wanda was able to recruit enough kids to form a team and this nucleus of kids went on to set some records of their own. In youth football her oldest sons team not only never lost a game, when they got to High School they never lost either. They won several State Championships and were even written up in national news stories for their long winning streaks playing 11 man football in a TINY school. Who knows how many of these kids would have never got to experience football and that amazing streak had it not been for Wanda’s creative “bear hunt” recruiting event.
While her son has won many rodeo awards and medals, his fondest memories are those of his youth football days, hunting bears with his friends. Needless to say we were both busting guts as she told this amazing story, one that gets told around these parts by now 24 year old men all the time. I’m sure each and everyone of their sons and grandsons will hear that story as well.
Youth football comes in many shapes, flavors and sizes, but no matter where it is at, it’s creating positive lifelong memories for our kids. What kind of memories are you making for your team?
Coyright 2008 Cisar Management
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