This football season marked a new beginning for young football players in the Missoula area. It's the first year that the newly formed Missoula Youth Football League has provided the opportunity for young sports enthusiasts to get involved in some on-field action
“The entire goal was to create a regionalized program for kids to play the game of football, learn the fundamentals of the sport and learn to love the game,” said the Commissioner of the Missoula Youth Football League, Mike Leary. “They’re playing with the friends and neighbors that they're going to school with and that they'll be able to play with for years to come.”
Friday night the league held its first-ever championship games under the lights at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Cheering loudly for her son Logan, Missoula mom Jodi Schoening said she’s thrilled her son had the chance to play under the lights of Washington-Grizzly Stadium. “This was his Super Bowl and he was just glad to be here and be a part of history and he even said, ‘I'm part of history mom!’”
This season the Missoula Youth Football League hosted third through sixth graders. It's the league’s first year and it already has 375 players. There are seven third and fourth grade teams and eight fifth and sixth grade teams.
“When we first started, our goal was to get 150 kids,” said Leary. “We thought if we could get 150 kids we'd have enough kids to have four teams in each age group but this is our first year and we have 15 teams.”
Parents say they couldn't be more excited about the youth league.
“They just got everybody going and I love it as a parent that my kid’s out here playing and the kids are loving football,” said Schoening. “This is awesome! This was Super Bowl!”
“We want kids to know its OK to win and it's OK to lose as well,” said Leary. “We want kids to win and lose with dignity and respect and play with the highest levels of sportsmanship.
The league plans to add a seventh and eighth grade team next year, as well as a Missoula youth cheer league.