"For pee wee footballers, the emphasisis on fun"

"Troy Strobel exerts as much enthusiasm today as he did 14 years ago when he took over the head coaching duties for the pee wee football program in Port Orchard.I can't wait until the day where I'm coaching somebody whose parent I coached as a kid, Strobel said. My wife said it would be time to get out, but I'm going all the way. I love this and working with kids.Port Orchard is admittedly a football community, and the sheer numbers that turned out last week for the start of the pee wee season reflect that, Strobel said.Pee wee football is offered to 7- to 14-year-olds and they are divided into four divisions, A, B, C, and D,Each player is put into the appropriate division based on weight and age.An E level was added three years ago when Strobel came up with the idea of flag football for those 5-7 years of age.Strobel said the E level has provided instant success and allowed the pee wee football program to grow.They would come out, get the helmet on, get pads on, start working out. But after contact they didn't want to play anymore, Strobel said. We started the 'E' level so they can get the idea of what's going on (such as) formations and exercising. Believe it or not there are a lot at 'E' level.What started out with just two local E teams has grown into three teams and other leagues are also offering flag football.That's telling you these kids at 5 to 7 years old are starting to play, Strobel said. Dennis Young, whose 6-year-old son Bradley is playing for the first time, said there are a lot more younger kids than he expected to see.Flag football has a lot to do with that, Young said. I asked my son if he wanted to play football and he said 'Sure, I'll play,' and he's having a blast so far.Young said when his son comes home after practice he's wound up like a rubber band, chattering a mile a minute about what he did.Young said he loves the pee wee motto and what football can do for these kids.It's real positive and the No. 1 rule is to have fun, and it keeps kids out of trouble, Young said.One of the obvious concerns with parents is the possibility of injury.But Strobel said the strict weight limits put every player on an even playing field.However, Strobel said he could understand parents' concerns about junior high football.I can see that at junior highs where you have 135-pound kids playing 200-pounders, he said. But most of those kids at 135 pounds don't get to play until the fifth quarter.Of course those concerns are moot for this year since all junior high sports was cut from the school budget because of the levy failure.Over the last 14 years under Strobel the number of pee wee players has fluctuated. This year because of the levy failure Strobel had an influx of junior high players but had to turn some of them away because their weight exceeded the maximum allowance.SKYAA is trying to start up a team of seventh and eighth graders only and they're too big for us, so we're sending them over there, Strobel said.Despite the levy failure Strobel said he is anticipating possibly the best season yet this year because of an outpouring of support from parents and South Kitsap Community Park.There are more parents involved now than there ever was, Strobel said.We have a (committee) here that's a lot better than anybody else I've ever seen do it...and it's neat that we're being allowed to play our home games at (South KItsap Community) Park."

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