Youth football in the Wood River Valley has a new look with this week’s announcement that the Ketchum-based Wood River Community YMCA has assumed management of the local youth football program.
Wood River Youth Football, run by parents and volunteers, has been in existence for 15 years through the Boise-based Optimist Youth Football and Cheer program which was first established in 1949. The program stretches from Homedale to McCall over to Wood River.
Jason Fry, CEO of the Wood River YMCA, announced in an advertisement published in Wednesday’s Idaho Mountain Express, “This is the Wood River Y’s first venture into youth sports in our community even though the Y is the largest provider of youth sports in the country.”
The advertisement also said the Y will immediately begin the oversight of the program for the 2014 fall season.
Fry served as assistant coach of the Wood River High School football program from 2009-11, working with head coach Kevin Stilling during his first three years guiding the WRHS grid program.
Stilling said Wednesday, “I am excited about the YMCA’s involvement with youth football in the valley. The high school appreciates all the time, effort, and dedication of the Optimist board of directors over the years. I am confident that this change will offer many new opportunities to expand football in the valley.”
Youth football and cheerleading registration night has been set for Wednesday, April 9 from 5-8 p.m. in the Wood River High School commons area in Hailey. There, interested young people and parents can meet coaches and get more information.
The Y has hired Alex Padilla, 20, as its Youth Football Coordinator to oversee the programs. A 2011 Wood River High graduate, Padilla is working on his Associates of Arts in Sports Management degree through the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls.
A three-sport athlete at Wood River, Padilla was a senior star on Stilling’s 2010 Wolverine football team that won its last two conference games for a 4-4 season record. Padilla led the team in scoring with seven touchdowns and was chosen first-team Great Basin Conference defensive back and second-team return specialist.
For the past year-and-a-half, Padilla has been working for the Y as an after-school program leader, lifeguard and climbing wall staff member.
Padilla, who participated in the Wood River Youth Football program while growing up, said, “The program will be run the same way that it has been in the past, but the only change is that all contacts will be here at the YMCA.
“The different groups will be divided by age, but if a child weighs closer to the average weight of the age above he or she, then they may have to play up. The ages are 7-8 years old will play flag, and once again depending on numbers this could be up to two teams.
“The 9-year-old players will be Freshman, 10s will be Sophomores and 11s are Juniors. The cost is $150 for tackle football with scholarships available. The cost is $135 if you’re a member of the YMCA. Flag football will be $90 per kid with scholarships available.
“We are also having cheerleading. That costs $50 per child with scholarships available. There is a registration deadline for the programs. Depending on numbers there is some leniency about registration. We have an Aug. 3 midnight deadline for all online registration.”
About coaching possibilities, Padilla said, “Any new interested coaches must contact me and must follow a background check and get certified through Heads-Up, which is a requirement to coach for proper tackling technique. This is still based out of Boise Noon Optimist.”
Stilling added, “This is a win for our community and kids. Youth football is a venue that builds the foundations of safety and fun for kids who want to continue playing football through middle school and high school and beyond. Having the Y involved in youth sports is a natural fit.”
Padilla can be reached at the Y Mondays through Fridays. Reach him at email@example.com or call him at 727-9622.