A word from Coach
Little Gridiron has a proud tradition of being a fantastic introduction to football and we hope you and your child take this opportunity to participate.
A LITTLE HISTORY
Little Gridiron was founded by a group of West Lafayette dads over 31 years ago. In the early days of the league, teams were added from Harrison, McCutcheon, Central Catholic, Benton Central, Delphi and Frontier grade schools. The league was originally comprised of boys in 4th through 6th grades. At that time the league established a set of rules that included age and weight restrictions to increase and promote the safety of its players. The first season or two ended with a Super Bowl and seeding was based on records and scores. The experience was terrible and was quickly abandoned by the LGI board of directors. Coaches stacked teams, ran up scores, and the emphasis and style of play was to win at all cost. All of this was contrary to a positive youth sports experience. The men who made up the board of directors came together and pounded out a new mission statement and rules to support it. That was a watershed moment for the league and set the tone and philosophy of LGI for over thirty years. The From that time, the goal is and always has always been to promote safety, fun, and participation and all decisions made by the board and its coaches have been made with those values in mind.
The league has evolved throughout the years, but not without spirited debate. Weight limits, for example, have been a point of discussion every year. Our upper weight limit has gradually increased; however, the remaining running back limits have remained relatively stable. Our record will show that, as a league, these limits have proven to be as safe as was originally intended. It should be noted, that from the day the league was founded, players who don’t meet the league’s weight requirements have always been welcome to participate in a team’s practices; in a controlled environment, and in any capacity a team, its coaches and parents see fit, keeping safety in mind. Several players have done so for Central Catholic LGI and have gone on to have great seasons at higher levels; contributing to multiple conference and state championships. Another example of our league’s growth evolution was the inclusion of 3rd grade players. In recent years, the league added 3rd graders and we now have two age divisions; a 3rd and 4th grade division and a 5th and 6th grade division. This split allowed younger players more time and opportunity to learn the game and become more confident in their abilities before having to compete with older players. The effect of this decision was immediately and positively realized as participation and the experience greatly increased at the 4th grade level.
One of the best decisions the league has made was to employ a set of high school certified officials for every game. The kids and coaches work extremely hard all week and deserve to have their games officiated by competent crews. Over the years, I have been lucky enough to observe our officials slow down the game when necessary and provide a moment of instruction to a player. Whether that is helping a confused player find his position on the field or to give them a brief lesson in good sportsmanship. Our officials provide a great experience for the players who often times may find officials intimidating or see them as the guys who just flag and penalize bad things. Although they are high school qualified, our crews are officiating at a grade school level and are invaluable mentors to our players. It is hard to beat witnessing an official give a player a complement like, “nice tackle!,” “good block!” or “that was a great run!” and the impact that experience has on our the players in our league is fantastic.
Although the league is constantly being pulled in the direction of other youth sports experiences, it remains a league that is properly structured to give the maximum number of players a good, safe, instructional and fun experience at this age level. We firmly believe in the mission of the league and do everything we can to promote the values of that mission. Winning is secondary to us at this level. Our singular goal is to give kids a great football experience and instill all of the skills they will need as they graduate and move on to junior high football. We have been blessed with many volunteers and coaches over the years. Our coaching staff is led by Wade Seaburg, Phil Reynolds, Matt Fontaine, and Don Bush. These four have coached CC LGI for a combined 42+ years. That experience is complemented by several former Central Catholic players and dads (and grandfathers) who volunteer their time for the program. This dedication and desire to give back to our school has been key to the continued success of our program. All of our coaches are NYSCA and/or USA Football Heads Up certified. All coaches have received concussion awareness certification as directed by the league, the IHSAA and the State of Indiana. And our coaches at Central Catholic are also required to complete protocol training that is provided by the Diocese of Lafayette.
Our equipment at Central Catholic Little Gridiron’s is second to none. Due to the generosity of many sponsors and gifts to our program, we have been able to maintain great equipment. Our helmets are purchased new and then reconditioned every three years and certified as safe. If they are not safe they are returned literally cut in half. We provide certified helmets, integrated pants for practices and games, one mouth guard, and a practice jersey. Everything must be returned at the end of the season except the mouth guard and the game jersey.
Central Catholic High School, the varsity football program and its coaches, the Athletic Association and the Athletic Department are very supportive of our youth program. They provide green space for us to practice right at Central Catholic, let us use the varsity field and the concessions facilities for our home games.
Finally, as much fun as playing football can be, we realize that it is a sport and do our best to keep that in perspective for our players, coaches and volunteers. Our mantra is Faith-Family-Football … in that order. Of course, faith is at the center of everything we do. We want to make sure our players realize that, in order to play football, they have to keep their faith right there at the center. How they carry themselves on and off the field is a reflection of their faith, their families, their school and their team. We take this very seriously. We also stress that family is next. Anything family related takes priority over football. Players don’t lose positions and are not penalized playing time if they have to miss practices due to a family commitment. Players must also maintain their grades and be well-behaved at school. We would rather see a player miss a practice to study for a test or catch up on their studies, rather than play and struggle in school. Finally, if all of those things are in order, we can have some fun playing football.
If your child is interested in football, we hope that they give Central Catholic Little Gridiron a try. We provide a great experience for our players and have personally had the pleasure of watching many of them excel at higher levels. I would encourage everyone to watch the Orel Hershiser Game Changer video in the Resource portion of our website. He expresses EXACTLY what we believe in and practice in our program. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to speak to any of our coaches. We also invite you to observe our practices at any time. If you are interested in volunteering, we welcome you! There are many opportunities. If you would like to coach, work the chains at our home games, video tape, announce at home games, work concessions or sponsor a team, please see Coach Seaburg or Dejoie.
Thank you for your support of Little Gridiron Football and GO KNIGHTS!