When young baseball players begin to play the game, there’s a bit of a growing process. There’s tee-ball, then coach pitch, then little league ball. That natural progression was missing in youth football — until now.
Austin’s Hill Country Pop Warner league has introduced a Rookie Tackle program this season, and it’s going over quite well.
“I’m incredibly proud to say that the overall feedback from everyone — coaches, players, parents, volunteers and officials — has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Hill Country Pop Warner President Janan Miller. “I had coaches pull me aside to say that their kids just had the absolute best time out on the field. Hearing that makes all this worth it.”
USA Football launched Rookie Tackle in June as a bridge game between flag football and 11-on-11 tackle. Each team puts six to eight players on a playing field that’s narrower than a standard field and 40 yards in length, which allows two games to be played simultaneously. There are no special teams, and coaches encourage players to try out several positions throughout the season.
Hill Country is one of ten Rookie Tackle pilot programs across the U.S.
“It used to take a long time for the kids to get set up for the next play. Now things move quicker,” said parent Eric Kirchhoff whose son, Austin, plays on the NYSA Cowboys Tiny Mite team. “They should keep this format for the young players. It allows for more learning opportunities and more plays.”
Pop Warner Little Scholars Executive Director and National Council of Youth Sports Vice President Jon Butler applauded Hill Country’s implementation of the nascent program.
“I think it’s great. You never know when you try a new idea,” he said. “They seem to have fully embraced it, and we very much appreciate it.”
For Hill Country, it was a big, successful step in a previously unknown direction. “We are thrilled with the results so far and are excited to see what the future holds,” Miller said.
For more information on Hill Country Pop Warner, visit www.hillcountrypopwarner.com.
Article by SportsXpress and Brent Glasgow, photos by SportsXpress