by Andy Goffin '18
Thayer Academy Sports Network (TASN)
After years of offering a Middle School tackle football program for grades 6-8, Thayer added a flag football team exclusively for its 6th graders this year.
"We just want to have fun. We play hard, work hard, and try our best. If we lose, we are good sports about it. If we win, we do not show off," says 6th grader Calin Ocnean-Sanchez '24.
The team developed as an alternative to the Middle School tackle football team. Many of the teams that the Middle School tackle football team plays have only 7th and 8th graders, so in the past, 6th graders were forced to go up against older, bigger kids. This created a difficult situation for the coaches and players in that the coaches needed to pick the moments in the game when the 6th graders could safely compete.
With Thayer adding 5th grade next fall, there now exists a program for the incoming 5th grade class to actively participate on a football team, without parents and kids having to worry about competing against older and bigger middle school students.
Assistant Athletic Director Kevin Steuer coaches the young squad, and says his goal is to teach his team the fundamentals of the game and to just have fun.
"The 6th graders currently playing flag football will continue to learn the game and move through the program next year. This will also help to sustain the number of players in the high school program for the future," he says. "The kids enjoy learning play calls and different game situations while maintaining a supportive environment."
Coach Steuer says that the team has competed well in its first couple games and collectively has a few skills to work on in practice. "This team never quits and plays harder as the game progresses," he says.
The team carries this mentality into practice and games.
"My favorite part about flag football is just the people. One person can do things, but as a team, we can do more. I feel like this team is really in sync. It is really a bonding experience," says Martin Nyagilo '24.
The flag football program allows a small group of sixth graders to safely learn the game of football, have more of an opportunity to participate, and build camaraderie during these student athletes' first semester at Thayer Academy.