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2010-06-13 / Sports

Big changes made to elementary flag football

BY LISA PAINE
810-452-2626 • lpaine@mihomepaper.com

Players in the 40-year-old Lapeer Community Schools Flag Football program will now play in a new league, the Lapeer County Flag Football program. FILE PHOTO Players in the 40-year-old Lapeer Community Schools Flag Football program will now play in a new league, the Lapeer County Flag Football program. FILE PHOTO LAPEER — Any athletic program that lasts 40 years has to be considered a success. After four decades, the highly-popular — and successful — Lapeer Community Schools Flag Football program is no more and is reinventing itself under a new name and self-supported status operating outside the Lapeer Community Schools.

New league president Paul Gilbert explained that the program has been renamed the Lapeer County Flag Football League, which will be open to football players and cheerleaders in fourth and fifth grades and, for the first time, homeschoolers. Sixth graders will now have the option of playing in a new Lapeer Community Center recreational League, that remains a works in progress.

“The schools are not involved anymore and we are now an independent league operating outside of the Lapeer Community Schools,” Gilbert explained. “It’s now the first year for Lapeer County Flag Football League. Coaches from the elementary schools are still involved and the team names will remain the same. We will be granted use of each school’s athletic field under a school’s use agreement.”

Cheerleading is an integral part of the flag football league. Photo by LISA PAINE Cheerleading is an integral part of the flag football league. Photo by LISA PAINE The season-ending jamboree and SuperBowl, annuallly played at Lapeer West or Lapeer East, may have to switch sites, however, depending on the scheduling of the East and West high school teams. If their field is still in use come playoff time, Dryden High has already committed to letting the league use its field.

The upcoming flag football season’s sign-up took place on June 7 at the elementary schools, but anyone who may have missed that can still register at the league’s mini-camp for football and cheerleading on Aug. 7 at Chatfield School. Gilbert noted that cheerleading is still an integral part of the league and hopes that will continue.

Ray Turczyn, director of the Lapeer Community Center, confirmed that the Community Center will be offering to pick up sixth grade flag football.

“We’ve had several intramural and enrichment programs for the middle school kids under a new program called Intramural and Enrichment Programs Grades 6-8 in cooperation with the Lapeer Community Schools,” Turcyzn said. “We are partnering with Marilyn Voss and and Community Enrichment.”

Turczyn went on to explain that kids in grades six through eight are at a unique crossroads.

“That’s an age where kids typically start changing their interests and the new middle school program lets us target those age groups and their interests. We will offer sixth and seventh grade flag football in the fall, but are also offering an intramural swim team, intramural tennis team, and our traditional offerings of volleyball, basketball, golf, soccer, competitive dance and special kids night out for middle schoolers,” Turczyn said. “We’ll also offer art through Gallery 194 and a drama club through the PIX Theatre. For the swim team, we are trying to have a separate intramural swim program and have meets along with tennis and other sports with Fenton, Brandon and others in the area. It’s all in the works and more details will come once school starts in the fall.”

As far as the Lapeer County Flag Football League, Gilbert said practice starts Aug. 23 and players and cheerleaders should see their coaches for more details. The first games will take place on Thursday, Sept. 9 at the elementary school fields. Gilbert stressed that homeschooled kids will not have a schools of choice option, and must play at the school in their area. For details, call Paul Gilbert at 810-797-5857.

Turczyn noted that the community center and elementary schools are fielding lots of calls about the changes, but added that they’ll get all the information they need for their kids once school comes back into session in the fall.

“It’s a start, and from there we will adapt and offer new programs in a direction,” Turczyn added.

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