The youth football season in Turlock and the surrounding 209 region is fast approaching, and one of the teams will be looking to continue recent success through a unique form of coaching and player development.
The Turlock Hornets youth football and cheer team has been in existence for five years. Last year, all four age levels of the program advanced to the Trans-Valley Youth Football League (TVYFL) playoffs, with their 6- to 8-year-old Junior Novice squad taking home the Super Bowl title.
James Brummett is the vice president of the program, and although there has been much on-the-field success for the program, his focus has been on teaching valuable off-field lessons to his youngsters through one simple aspect of the sport: playing time for the kids.
“Here, no matter what and no matter how good they are, every child in this organization will get 10 plays on the field,” Brummett explained. “When kids sit on the sidelines the whole time, it’s disheartening. And if a child falls in love with a sport and takes that passion into high school, it proves to be valuable in their academics and in their lives outside of school and sports.”
Brummett only began coaching last year when his son wanted to play football. While the two had experiences together with youth sports like baseball, Brummett has realized that there are unique life lessons only attainable on the gridiron.
“I coached my son in baseball before this, but my true passion is football,” he explained. “I like teaching the accountability and responsibility, because those are things you need to learn to stay safe in a full contact sport like football.”
Jerry Ragsdale is an alumnus of Turlock High School and has been coaching with the Hornets since the program’s founding five years ago. He elaborated more on how the skills learned in their program can be applicable to real-world experiences.
“These kids are out here working, learning plays, memorizing plays. After about five weeks, they, they understand plays and you can probably call them in from the sideline and they can actually execute. The ability to make that transition is crazy. They’re sharp and smart kids,” Ragsdale said.
While there is a serious and competitive side of sports, Brummett explained how it is simplified by just giving kids an opportunity to have fun and build friendships amongst themselves.
“We have boys playing football and girls doing cheer, and while they are different, we have them all practice the same kinds of drills together so that they can all build those relationships and have that same level of physical activity,” Brummett said.
With this heightened focus on playing time, Brummett also realizes that the program is in a unique position to provide local youth with opportunities they may not get elsewhere.
“We don’t want kids to be discouraged from being active and building friendships because of an imbalance of playing time,” he said. “We want as many kids to be able to have fun as possible, regardless of talent level or income. I never want money to be a reason why a child isn’t out here playing sports and having fun.”
In the past, the program has sponsored local children, waiving their registration fees in order for them to have an opportunity to play. As Hornet alumni have begun to transition into high school competition, the TVYFL is also preparing to offer scholarships to high school graduates to help them with post-graduate endeavors, whether those plans revolve around sports or not.
The Hornets kick off their 2022 season on July 5. Those interested in the Hornets can contact the program at Turlock Hornets Football and Cheer on Facebook, @TurlockHornets on Instagram, or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.