New Teams Offer Opportunities for Younger Student Athletes

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MATEO MEMBRENO

Trinity Prep sub-varsity fullback Jackson Salinas sprints by Lake Highland defenders. Salinas rushed for more than 100 yards during the September 19th game.

JAKE RAFFA, SPORTS

   It’s the first day of football workouts. Freshman Jackson Salinas, a young fullback and inside linebacker, walks onto the field. For his age, Salinas is extremely talented, but, at only 5 feet, 6 inches, he is overshadowed when compared to varsity players at his position, which is not an uncommon problem among Trinity underclassmen.

   In order to get these skilled young athletes the playing time they want, Athletic Director David Langdon decided that it was time for an expansion of the football program.

   “We wanted to start a flag league for our sixth and seventh graders to succeed and get fired up about football, and we wanted our ninth graders to be able to play against eighth and ninth graders instead of upperclassmen,’’ Langdon said.

   The new flag football teams focus on the sixth and seventh graders who aren’t quite ready to play tackle football. There are two flag teams in total, each made up of both sixth and seventh graders. David Steinberg, seventh grader, plays for one of these flag teams. Steinberg said he was very happy when he heard these flag teams would be replacing the middle school tackle team.

   “I think it’s great,” Steinberg said. “It gives small kids like me a chance to participate.”

   Steinberg’s mom, Nathalie Steinberg, was also a big supporter of this change.

   “I was delighted to hear of flag football as an option for our middle schoolers,” Mrs. Steinberg said. “David really wanted to play football but we were not in favor, especially of how physical the sport can be.”

   For the eighth and ninth graders, Langdon established a sub-varsity team. The sub-varsity team is for these kids as well as gifted middle schoolers, whom the coaches think are talented enough to play with kids older than them.

   Tyrone Abney, the head coach of the sub-varsity team, explained the usual practice for the sub-varsity team.

   “We do individual work together, but when it comes time for the hitting drills we limit the contact,” Abney said. “Sometimes we allow the ninth graders to practice against the varsity kids but never the eighth graders,” Abney said.

   Abney, as well as the other coaches, believe that this way is the most beneficial, allowing the sub-varsity team to learn from the older varsity players without actually having to tackle or be tackled by them. This leads to an increase in overall numbers, as even kids still learning the basics are able to come out.

   Mia Harvey, an eighth grader here at Trinity,  is a prime example of one of these athletes, as this is her first year ever playing football. At just 5 feet 1 inch, Harvey is one of the smallest athletes on the field. Also, she is the only girl on a team of fifteen boys.

   “It’s really cool having her on the team,” Abney said. “Everyone is really supportive. It’s almost like she’s the little sister of the team.”

   Harvey said that all of her teammates are really nice to her, and she feels welcomed by the team’s family-like environment. The fact that she’s the only girl doesn’t matter to her, as she simply loves playing football. She aims to share this passion with others too.

   “I’m actually trying to convince one of my [female] friends to come out and play right now,” Harvey said.

   As for the future of the football program, Langdon said he is hopeful that it is on the way up.

   “I think these teams will increase our numbers, which will increase our philosophy of making better students and better people,” Langdon said.