Youth team’s success hints at bright future for Steamboat’s football programs
Steamboat Youth Athletics traveled to Aurora on Sunday, June 25, to compete in the NFL Flag Regional Tournament. They sent two 10-and-under teams and one 8-and-under team to compete, and returned to Steamboat victorious.
With little opportunity to practice, one of the teams won the 10U Rec division of the tournament. They had a perfect 3-0 record in pool play, and won the championship with a 26-6 victory.
Wyatt Boatner, a player on the 10U team, said he was anxious at the start of the tournament but believes the team settled in nicely as the day went on.
“The tournament was a big thing… football means a lot to me,” he said. “I was nervous at first and then we got in our first game, our team had a lot of confidence and it hit us. We just tried our best and we won.”
The team received championship rings, tickets to a Denver Broncos preseason game, and will have the opportunity to compete against other regional champions at the Pro Bowl in February 2023.
Jeff Sublett, the team’s coach, was proud of all the kids accomplished in such a short amount of time.
“For a group of kids that had been practicing for two weeks, getting to go play in Orlando, Florida at the Pro Bowl with every NFL star, that’s like a dream come true,” Sublett said. “I did not think we were gonna go over there and compete as well as we did. I was so proud of them.”
The 8U team finished in second place at the tournament, and despite just coming up short, they are excited to practice hard in hopes to earn their run at a championship soon.
Right out of the tournament, the kids all congregated on Monday for Steamboat Youth Athletics summer football camp which was designed to sharpen their skills, grow their love for the game, and compete with and against their friends.
“This camp has really helped me get better at football, and there’s tons of people, and it just brings everyone together to have fun and it’s just such a good time,” said Marcus Borden, a player on the 10U championship team.
The camp was run by a combination of Sublett, Ken Orce and middle school football players in and around Steamboat.
Orce is the coach for seventh grade football in Steamboat, and hopes to create a close relationship between all football programs in town. He had the middle school students help coach the camp because they recently made the transition to tackle, and can be an inspiration to the younger kids who have dreams of playing under the Friday night lights.
“You start contact in seventh grade so it’s really good to have the basic skills,” Orce said. “They know how to break down positions, they know how to run and pull flags. We try to do angle pursuit drills and those are contact drills that we use in flag but we’re obviously not hitting anybody.”
Sublett believes the promotion of football at a young age will help grow the Steamboat programs moving forward. Steamboat Springs High School is coming off of their first winning season since 2009, and Sublett hopes to make a routine out of that through youth flag football.
“These kids are gonna be teammates all through high school,” Sublett said. “It’s a small community but it’s an amazing tight knit community and we’re just trying to build better young men and women.”
The flag football season for Steamboat Youth Athletics starts August 29, and is available for all kids from kindergarten through sixth grade.
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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