This year will bring some younger faces to the gridiron in Macon. A new Macon Youth Football league for students in the 3rd and 4th grades has been formed.
League President Ted Harrell said that a group of parents started to discuss the idea of the new league last fall.
"There were discussions concerning the fact that most of the other towns have a 3rd and 4th grade program," said Ted. "By the time the kids get to 5th and 6th grade they are playing against kids that have already been playing for a couple of years. It puts our kids at a disadvantage."
Ted and his wife Carol and Tracy and Chris Cashatt got the ball rolling to start the program. "We started to put things together and a bunch of other parents joined in," said Ted.
Tracy is serving as league vice-president, Philip Prewitt as secretary and Carol and Chris as co-treasurers. Andee Bush is coordinating public relations/fund raising.
"We want to start teaching the fundamentals at a young age," said Ted. "We feel that teaching them to properly tackle and handle the ball will help their future coaches down the road."
"Our main purpose is to teach safety and for the kids to have fun," said Tracy. "We are telling the kids that this is the first level. They will then progress to Coach Pat Quinly's 5th and 6th grade program and then on to middle school and high school football."
Starting a new program is very expensive.
"One of our top priorities is that we have approved and certified protective gear for all our players," said Ted. "With equipment, uniforms and insurance we estimate the total start up cost around $500 per player."
The players are paying a sign-up fee. The program is open to any 3rd or 4th grader who lives in the area covered by the Macon R-I School District. Students attending ICS and Tri-County Christian School as well as those who are home schooled are included. To date, 32 players have registered.
To help keep the cost down sponsors and donations to the program are being sought from the community. Other fundraising activities, raffles and the selling of T-shirts and hats are in the planning stages.
"We have had a tremendous response from businesses, parents and individuals," said Tracy. "The community has really pulled together to help get this thing going."
On March 25, players, parents and coaches met for their first practice at the Macon Stake Center.
"Right now we are co-existing with baseball and soccer season, so we will probably only be practicing once a month," said Ted. "Around the first week of August we will start to practice three or four times a week."
Page 2 of 2 - The teams will compete as part of the North Central Football League. The league has been in existence for more than 13 years and consists of teams from 14 towns including Brookfield, Kirksville, Salisbury, Westran and Moberly. Games will begin in September.
"We will be playing in a Jamboree, three home games and three out-of-town games," said Ted.
Coaching along with Ted and Tracy include Kevin Linear, Chris Riekeberg, Aaron Magruder, Nate Pillers and many other parents.
"We are attempting to keep the costs to the players and their families as low as possible," said Ted. "We want all 3rd & 4th grade Macon area children who desire to play football to have the ability to do so regardless of income."
Anyone wishing to make a donation can make them to: Macon Youth Football, c/o Ted Harrell of Tracy Cashatt, 55 South Rubey St., Macon, MO 63552.