News Revels Success

Idaho Press Tribune 10 Nov 2000 - Pg 4a

Youth league revels in year of success

Youth league celebrates first year of success

NAMPA -- Sure, some of those other cities have the NFL. But Nampa has the NOYFL; and this pack of pint-sized pigskin passers are proving that it doesn’t take broad shoulders or million-dollar salaries to wreak havoc on the gridiron.

During their first year of play, the 247 preteen members of the Nampa Optimist Youth Football League have racked up some impressive accomplishments. Several teams advanced to the playoffs this year. One team -- a batch of 11-year-old powerhouses who call themselves the Nampa Spartans -- were named top seeds this year, and Youth Football League pundits predict they’ll be division champions in 2001.

"We’re very well organized for the first year," Spartans coach Dave Mudd said Thursday. "We ended up 6-1 for the year, and we actually had to pull back a little bit. We won one game 72-8.

"I think we scared those folks in Boise a little bit."

The Nampa program started earlier this year after several Optimist Club members decided that youngsters shouldn’t have to wait until the fifth grade to play competitive flag and tackle football.

The idea caught on.

Get involved in youth football

The Optimimst's Club holds regular meetings for its youth football program, and invites members of the public who are interested in volunteering or sponsoring a team to attend. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at Pioneer Title Company, 100-10th Avenue S., Nampa.

The league, whose initial creation included 11 teams, is expected to double next year, Ken Wilson, the program’s executive director, said.

"We’re looking at about 22 teams," Wilson, who has coached youth football for nearly two decades, said. "It was a lot of fun this year, and for the most part it’s been a really successful season. We’ve never had any intramural kind of program like this before, and the kids have the most fun when they get to go to places like Horseshoe Bend and Boise to play other teams."

The league’s temporary home field at West Middle School in Nampa is also about to change. The Optimists are collaborating with the city to build a $650,000 football park -- similar to Boise’s 25-acre park -- that will include a clubhouse and concessions areas. Wilson expects the project to be completed in time for the 2002 season.

"What we’re trying to foster here isn’t just winning football games," Mudd said. "It’s about fostering good young men and women -- yes, we have girls playing for us too. It’s about setting goals -- not just in football, but in their education, their families and their future.

"And we’re going to build for the future of this league. We’re not going to just be satisfied with what we’ve accomplished up to now."

Celebrating successful Optimist Football season to the music of the Corvairs

Melissa Wilson / IPT

Connie Haines and Jim Shearer, both of Nampa, groove to the music of the Corvairs Thursday night at the nampa Elks Lodge celebrating Nampa Optimist Youth Football League's successful inaugural season.

Reprinted by permission of Idaho Press Tribune
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