Participation numbers skyrocket in Bonner Springs Youth Football as program quadruples in size
Support from BSHS contributes greatly to surge in numbers, league organizers say
After only recruiting 30 players to play youth football last season, the Bonner Springs Youth Football program has grown exponentially, with 120 kids signed up — enough to field seven teams — for the fall.
It’s a turnout that caught program vice president Ron Wild by surprise.
“Would I ever have thought this would happen? No,” Wild said. “Maybe two, possibly three more teams … but the response has been crazy.”
Wild means crazy in a good way, though. Program organizers had hoped to see interest in football rise, and their wish came true.
The program will offer a flag football team for youths in kindergarten and first grade. There also will be one tackle squad for second, third, fifth and sixth grades, along with two fourth-grade teams.
“(Bonner Springs High School) also helped us quite a bit this year, and the new head football coach (Lucas Aslin) at the high school was happy to help us and gave us access to the school to talk to the kids and send emails out to parents,” Wild said. “That helped a lot.”
Wild and Bonner Springs Youth Football president Jerry McArthur have been instrumental in putting together the program.
“I think what we are trying to do here is bring the community together from the football aspect of it,” McArthur said. “We try to get our boys in this community to learn about responsibility, credibility, teamwork and character. You name it, it will help them later in life.”
McArthur credits the help of the Bonner Springs High School athletics program for helping the teams get started, particularly BSHS activities director John Hilton.
“From day one, John has attended most or all of our workouts,” McArthur said. “He talked to parents for us. John Hilton is in it to win it.”
Wild and McArthur said they have been impressed with Aslin’s eagerness to be involved with the youth program leading up to his first season at BSHS.
“He works with kids really well,” Wild said. “Both of his boys were down there and they were really, really young. He made it fun for the boys.”
Local businesses have chipped in too, and McArthur said sponsorship and fundraising have helped the program raise enough money to purchase the necessary equipment to outfit all players.
“If you would have bought this helmet two years ago, it’s a completely different look and style,” McArthur said. “It’s so much more advanced. That’s another reason why we bought the new equipment.”
Of all the efforts, though, the organization is just happy to supply opportunities for young people to have a great time.
“So far it’s been fun, that’s for sure,” Wild said. “The kids are having a blast.”
Now that the program is growing in participation, McArthur said the focus is on helping local kids grow as football players.
“It happened to be this year that all of this happened,” McArthur said. “It came together, and I never thought it would be this big.”
For more information on the program, go to bonneryouthfootball.com.