On a run in the late summer, I noticed something new in Belle Creek. A football team! Boys of many different ages groups were gathered with their coach, running plays, doing pushups, and learning the fundamentals.
Soon after, when the Belle Creek Playground was being installed, neighbors volunteered their hours to help with the installation. Namely, spreading 2 semis’-worth of mulch under the newly installed equipment. Shortly after I got there, I noticed something impressive. The football team and their coach were leading the efforts!
I soon found out that these were the Henderson Hawks, lead by Chad Weinand (Coach Chad). I spoke with the coach to find out more about the team, the league, and what makes the Colorado Youth Football Association special:
How did you get started coaching the Henderson Hawks?
I decided to start a new competitive youth football league out here in Colorado. One that did not have the restrictive rules that most recreational leagues have that ultimately restrict a coaches ability to properly develop kids. As I started with the league, I felt there was a need in the Belle Creek and surrounding areas and decided to make my home team within the league the Henderson Hawks.
Tell me a little bit about your football background.
Not a whole lot to tell, I have been coaching youth sports since I was thirteen years old, only played one year of high school football, but I have always been a student of the game. I completed a coaching minor while in college and played two years of football while in the Air Force.
Since moving to Denver in 1994, I have been very active in coaching a variety of youth sports and last year was on the coaching staff at Thornton High School. This winter I was approached by the AAU, the Amatuer Athlete Union, and asked if I was interested in becoming the state director of football. I accepted the position with the first order of business being to launch a competitive football league. I also have recently accepted a recruiting and assistant coach position at Cole College, which will be launching its athletic programs fall semester of 2011.
What age groups are your teams’ members?
Our teams are broken up into 4 divisions, 14 and under, 12 and under, 10 and under and 8 and under. Our programs number one goal is to develop athletes, I feel that our program is set to do just that over the long haul.
Tell me a little bit about your training schedule and expectations you have of your players (I understand you have a community service requirement for each kid?)
We practice three times per week, I would love to do more but, families have more going on than just youth football. As our program grows and matures we will always look at and consider a more committed practice schedule. We are a 12 month program, meaning that our season is just step one. As we go into the spring we will look at playing in a spring league, spring and summer tournaments that are available, and will be putting on free skill camps for our athletes.
Our program is set up to teach kids the skills to become successful student athletes. To accomplish this kids are required to balance an academic and social responsibility with their athletic responsibilities. We require our kids to turn in progress reports and each team is required to do 100 hours of community service per year.
On top of that we also have a track and field program called R.E.A.L. Training that runs a full indoor and outdoor season as well for all age groups. That program focuses on teaching Responsibility, Education, Athletics and Leadership. Anyone in the community interested in that can call Coach Mo at 303-324-8301.
What is the biggest challenge facing players in that age group?
Every age group is different, this year our biggest challenge is just building the foundation as we move forward with this program. Making sure that kids first develop a love of the game, then teaching kids how to compete, how to set goals and how to work to achieve those goals.
Kids have it pretty easy in today’s world and it has created an environment that doesn’t teach healthy competition. Mainly because society doesn’t want a kid to feel like he failed or lost. I think it is ok to fail, our kids should feel the same, because without failure and adversity how can they ever experience the thrill of victory and achievement. I think that is the biggest challenge, just getting the kids to compete.
This is your first year in Henderson. What kind of response have you seen from the community and the players and their families? Will you be back again next year?
I think the Belle Creek and Henderson communities are one of the best kept secrets in the metro area. I thank everyone for their
support and we will absolutely be back next year, bigger and more organized than this year. This is something I plan on doing even when my kids are no longer in the program.