Jimmies helping out local summer youth football league
The league is made up of 16 teams.
JAMESTOWN — When kids finish playing football in the Jamestown Parks and Recreation league in the fall, they have to wait until the spring to play football again. Over the last two years, Shane Clancy and his wife, Samantha, have run the Gridiron Football-North Dakota on the field at Charlotte and Gordon Hansen Stadium.
The league is for kids from kindergarten through eighth grade with the kids split up by age group. They practice and play on Sundays in the league that started on April 30 and runs until June 25. The games are 5-on-5 and last one hour. Clancy said the league has grown from 150 kids to 182 kids this season.
Clancy said he and his wife started the league through the Gridiron Football organization after meeting with his old high school coach, Dante DePaola. He said they wanted to start the league because their summers are free and wanted to give kids another activity to do in the summer.
“Whether they’re 6-year-olds running around or a seventh grader running around, we want those kids to enjoy playing football,” Clancy said. “They get to play at the UJ stadium, which I think is pretty cool. The whole goal for me and my wife was just to get the kids in the community excited about football and have a good time playing it. Whether that leads into them actually being high school football players or not doesn’t really matter.”
Through his connections as the defensive coordinator for the University of Jamestown football team, Clancy has some of his players coach the teams. Clancy also said some Jamestown Blue Jays football players are helping out as well.
“We wouldn’t have the league without those guys,” Clancy said. “A lot of it is made up of local players, a lot of the kids that are from Jamestown or the kids that are staying here all summer, and working out and have jobs in town already. They come out and it’s about an hour, hour and a half on Sundays that they come out and volunteer their time for us.”
The league is serving as a good start to a coaching career for former Jimmies wide receiver Steve Justice. Justice said he loves working with the kids and helping to cultivate their love of the game.
“Honestly, I’m more passionate about helping out those young kids than I am about the game,” Justice said. “I love the game of football but I love those kids more, even if I don’t know the kids. I still love that kid because I can see that same sparkle in their eye that I had when I was a youth football player and I see that sparkle and I want to be able to capitalize on that and I want to make sure they know whether or not they did good or bad they’re still gonna be loved at the end of the day.”
During the games, parents get to watch their kids from the stands at Hansen Stadium. One of those parents is Jonas VanEnk who has two sons — Jaxon and Casen — in the program. Both kids have played the two years that the league has existed.
“It’s good for kids...the program’s great, the kids have fun; seeing the UJ football players show them that much excitement, it’s great for the kids," VanEnk said.
VanEnk said he thinks of the Jimmies football players as mentors for his sons. VanEnk’s sons enjoy the league so much they make the weekly trip from Edgeley to participate in the league.
“They make new friends, we drive 40 miles to get here every Sunday,” VanEnk said. “They have a bunch of their friends come up from school with them.”
The kids are not the only ones who take the games seriously as some of the coaches have drawn up plays for their teams including Falcons coach Brady Butt. Butt is on the Falcons, who are fifth to eighth grade boys, staff alongside Jimmies defensive lineman Paul Vandal.
“Coach (Brian Mistro) said we had this opportunity, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into,” Vandal said. “But as the weeks go on, it’s fun to bond with the kids. I’ve started to enjoy going to it, giving back to the community is good. It’s a good feeling.”
Another set of parents that watch their son is Cassandra and Dale Monk who have an 11-year-old son, Brenton De Jesus. Dale Monk said he enjoys how busy the kids are in the league.
“He’s had his uniform on since about 10 a.m., so that tells you he’s been looking forward to coming all day,” Cassandra Monk said.
The games and practices don’t end when the kids leave the field as Cassandra Monk said they continue at home.
“It’s nice to come and watch,” Cassandra said. “He likes to play football outside because of this and gets all of us out there playing with him at home. His teammates, some of them, are his friends, they come over and practice.”