Flag football sported 20 co-ed teams this season for a total of about 200 youth participating. The ages were from kindergarten through eighth grade and the program ran from June 18-July 19 culminating in a single elimination tournament on July 19.
“We would like to recognize the efforts of Eric Thorson, his family and all 20 coaches that volunteered,” said Haley Judd. “We even had a couple moms step up this year to coach. It was fun to watch.”
Vic Pearson is the Youth Football program director and he is assisted by Preston High School football coach Eric Thorson and Haley Judd.
“The flag football program is run through the high school and Eric has been the one that has really been running that,” said Judd. “I have helped mostly the youth and flag football programs organizing a lot of the behind-the-scenes logistics. Vic also helps coach at the high school level and Eric at a youth level. We all work pretty closely to make the programs flow really well together.”
The youth tackle football program in Preston growing. They added 20 additional players this year making 100 youth playing tackle football from 4th grade up
“This is more than we have ever had involved in our program,” said Judd. “We have always had to fill a 5th-grade team by pulling in 4th graders, and this year we have had so many kids sign up we have a full 5th-grade team and a full 4th-grade team. With this growth come a lot of costs, too, For 20 kids it is an estimated $8,000 of equipment, not including any league fees. We are very appreciative to those who have donated to help us support the growth that’s happening, and would love the support of anyone who would still like to donate.”
It has been said that it takes three years for a coach to really make a program their own and see the full results of their efforts. The same could be said of programs like this. Pearson has been the Preston Youth Football Director for about four years and his vision is taking hold and prospering.
“We have really tried to make the focus not be about winning football games but building a love for football, and learning to play football,” Judd said.
In addition to that, the team was accepted to the Utah Wasatch Front Football League. This opened up opportunities for 4th graders as well as a stronger pool of teams to play against.
“Joining the WFFL brought our teams into an elevated level of competition,” said Coach Thorsen.
“This gave our youth teams a rough season in winning terms last year, but despite that, the boys had a great experience and our numbers show that,” Judd said. “I also feel like our community is seeing what is happening at the High School level in football and they are excited to get their kids involved. We are seeing the numbers rise not only in our youth program but also at the high school level.”
The high school program has been requiring more from the boys than passing grades and good football skills.
“Our high school program is much more than just playing a football game,” Judd said. “The boys are encouraged to build their foundation as men. The high school has the boys doing service, learning to work together, genuinely building a brotherhood between the boys and it’s pretty exciting to watch. The boys and coaches are held to a high standard when it comes to language and actions, unlike what you might think about most football programs, our boys are expected to talk and act at a certain level. It’s just a positive thing to be a part of.”
Judd also has boys in both the high school and youth programs, giving her a personal perspective as well.
“I can see the good changes and influences they are around at football and I want nothing more than to help the programs to be at the best for all the boys involved. We have seen kids in the youth program, that all they have is football, and it has kept them out of a lot of trouble and given them a support group, so to say.”