'FUN'damentals of Football (VIDEO)
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
• WHAT: Stadium Day, an annual CYFL fundraiser
• WHEN: Oct. 26
• WHERE: Memorial Stadium, 3001 Miori Lane
• INFO: The CYFL teams will have the chance to play at Memorial Stadium; proceeds go toward equipment, uniforms and championship game costs.
"It's Super Bowl or bust," said Crossroads Youth Football League coach Deidrick Miller.
In his 10 years as a CYFL coach, Miller's team hasn't made it to the Super Bowl, and with his youngest son, J'Dn, aging out of the program at the end of this season, he feels the pressure to make it.
Eleven-year-old J'Dn began playing when he was 6- years-old. Depending on where he is needed, he will switch between running back, quarterback and cornerback throughout the season.
When given the choice of TV and video games and football, J'Dn said he would rather hit the field.
The youngest of five children, J'Dn said he has fun when he's playing football. Also, he'd like to follow in the footsteps of his father and coach.
The CYFL is broken down into four divisions: freshman (5- to 6-year olds), sophomore (7- to 8-year olds), junior (9-to 10-year olds) and senior (11- to 12-year olds). The two best teams in each division play in their own Super Bowl championship game at the end of the season.
There are 52 teams in the league, who come from eight area towns: Victoria, Cuero, Yoakum, Yorktown, Hallettsville and Gonzales. There are neighboring youth football leagues in Port Lavaca and Goliad that participate with CYFL, too.
There are approximately 375 children from Victoria who make 18 of the 52 teams, said longtime CYFL coach and four-year president Kevin Black.
"CYFL is pretty big, as big as baseball is around here," Black said. "We have a lot of support from local businesses and a lot of parent support."
Senior Division coach Miller started as a volunteer 10 years ago before his son started playing in the league.
"The league was looking for coaches because not many parents were getting involved at the time," Miller said. "They knew that I used to play football and asked me to coach - it was my first time ever."
Miller is a 1994 graduate of Victoria High, where he played defensive tackle.
Now that his playing days are over, Miller enjoys dedicating time as a coach each football season.
Black said that many of the coaches are parents and all of them go through heavy background checks. The same goes for Team Moms, who help out at each practice and all of the games.
"All of the coaches are very involved with their team," Black said. "They all go through a USA Football tackle certification course that teaches the fundamentals of the game, practice plans and how to communicate with parents."
Since all the fees that parents pay go toward equipment and uniforms, the coaches participate on a volunteer basis.
Black said that many of them can dedicate as many as 10-15 hours a week as a coach.
Even though Team Moms aren't on the field calling plays, they are putting in just as much time volunteering for the children.
This is the first year that Katrina Goode, mom to 11-year-old Daybrien Thomas, is a Team Mom.
Goode said that she registered her son in football when he was 6-years-old as a way to get him involved in something athletic.
"It's getting him ready for middle school and high school ball," Goode said.
Though Daybrien pulled a groin muscle last season, Goode said there haven't been major injuries.
"Of course, I'm always concerned about his safety, but the coaches are really structured and disciplined - they don't let the kids mess around on the field and get hurt."
Black said that he believes the league is a great thing for kids.
"It gives the kids something to do and gives them a nice, safe environment," Black said. "It keeps them off the video games and gets them out on the field."
Many of Black's former players have gone on to play high school football, and some have competed at the college level.
"It's always cool when a player remembers you as a coach," Black said. "I'll be walking through the grocery store and they'll come up to me and say 'Hey Coach.'"
Even with Miller's background in football, he said he didn't have to force J'Dn to sign up for the league.
"J'Dn loves football - he actually approached me to play," Miller said. "But he knows if he gets in something, he's in it 100 percent. He's very self-driven and doesn't require me to push very hard."