A group of 10 Blue Jay football players have reason to smile for at least an hour every Tuesday and Thursday night.
“I became a coach because I like being around the game,” said Connor Traut. “I wanted to impact the development of these young kids in hopes of making them the best players possible. I also love seeing the smiles and the general love they have for the game.
“One thing I love about training these young kids is how pure they are – they never fail to make you smile or laugh.”
Traut and three other Blue Jay Boys football players, Dylan Altringer, Brady Harty and Cashton Bollinger, have been tasked with the challenge of coaching Jamestown Soccer Club’s U8 youth football team.
Peyton Waliser, Hannah Murchie, Claire Frohlich, Liv Frohlich, Reece Christ and Olivia Sorlie – all members of the Blue Jay girls’ varsity soccer team – coach U6 female soccer players.
“A big part of what we train them is controlling the ball and playing with their teammates,” Frohlich said. “This experience has taught me to be more patient, I have to remember that they are small and very excited.
“It’s just fun working with the kids, I love seeing how excited they are to be there and they’re not afraid to be awkward with us, which makes it really fun. Would love to keep coaching when I return for the summer.”
The concept of high school students responsible for teaching the fundamentals of the game is relatively new. Most current high school students only remember being coached by Jamestown University students, parents, or football coaches.
“When Brady (Harty) was a kid, we were in Bismarck at the time and there were college kids from the University of Mary coaching him,” said JHS boys’ head coach Brandi Harty. “When I was in Jamestown for college, we helped out a bit with the youth programs, but I don’t think the high school kids helped out as much as they do now. It varies from club to club. ‘other.”
Harty said Jamestown Youth Football Club has changed over the past two years as the club no longer has the same director of training – a change which has given more opportunities to Blue Jay football players from s ‘imply.
Harty said if players have a desire to continue coaching, they can continue and earn their E license, which would allow them to coach at a higher level as they gain experience.
To coach at the youth level, Harty said there is no absolute qualification except that the coaches of the kids have played and understand the fundamentals of the game.
“The goal is to catch them when they’re younger and they find it interesting and that’s something they pursue going forward,” Harty said. “They really enjoy working with these kids and seeing how well they do at the end of the session.
“The boys have some feedback from the first session that is now making the second session and it’s pretty cool to see them interacting with those boys and girls again because they know them.”
This year there were two sessions – the first from April 12 to May 26, then after a 10-day break, the second session began. The summer session will end on July 21.
“Brandi asked me to help her last year with the U8s because my sister was in that group,” Sorlie said. “I volunteered this year after hearing I could help coach again.
“I would like to continue coaching the U6s and U8s for the rest of my high school years. Coaching taught me to be very patient with young players. It also taught me to find other ways to drills and getting players to listen and interact.”
Each age group – the U6s and the U8s – is usually split into two smaller groups to try to make it easier for the teenagers to contain the energy and excitement.
“I try to have two coaches per court,” Harty said. “There are still a lot of kids playing, so it’s always nice to have two of the coaches together, because if a kid is struggling or needs help tying a shoe, a coach can focus on the help of this kid and the other can continue coaching.”
So what does coaching elementary school kids really look like? Is it controlling chaos or teaching skills?
According to Sorlie, it’s a bit of both.
“While controlling the chaos is part of our responsibilities as coaches, coaching them on positioning real skills to help them improve their performance is the most important job we have,” Sorlie said.
To warm up, Sorlie said the kids were dribbling and focusing on their footwork. Sometimes there will be stints that focus on dribbling through the cones, ball control and small touches on the ball. Towards the end of practice, there’s usually a 4-on-4 scrum that works on passing, positioning, and opening up the kids for their teammates.
“I always wanted to be a coach once I came of age,” Brady said. “The thing we focus on the most is playing as a team because we prepare them to play at older ages.
“I like the amount of energy the kids have and the way they want to learn how to play football. It’s good to coach the kids – it has helped my presentation skills.”
Practices are held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Jaycee Soccer Complex.
Harty sends a practice sheet to youth coaches so they know what needs to be covered throughout the hour. Harty said from there, it’s kind of up to high school kids how they want to approach the ins and outs of the practice.
“I think that experience taught me to explain things in simpler terms so that I was understood,” Traut said. “I also think it taught me immense patience. It can get a bit chaotic at times, but that’s normal with these young kids. It’s just a matter of balance.”
The U6 age group does not play any outdoor competitions but the youth teams play friendly matches such as during the Jamestown Jamboree which took place at the resort on June 11.
Although his young football players mainly train and compete, Harty said that if the U8 team gets enough support from parents, they will travel to Mandan to participate in the Splashdown 2022 tournament from 22-24 July.
“I see a bright future for the Blue Jays soccer teams,” Sorlie said. “There are a lot of kids who want to play, and if they stick with it, the soccer program is sure to be crowded. The kids seem to like it and they work hard during the hour I give them. see.”
“In larger communities you’ll see a lot more college players coaching and we have college players helping out, but in the summer a lot of them walk away. That’s why our high school kinda took on those kids and that’s a really good thing.”