Cleats, cones, whistles, and proud parents; this was the scene at Pitman High this week as Turlock Youth Football’s Vikings and 49ers held their annual try-outs and Trans Valley’s Titans practiced under the sun.
With a long history of competitive football, TYF welcomed 250 youth players for their week-long tryouts, an estimated 70 of which are first year players. The young athletes competed amongst each other, ran drills, and began to learn the fundamentals of the game as they vied for a roster spot with one of the two teams.
“The lower levels always have a lot of kids come out,” TYF’s president Joe Lewis said. “Football is a great avenue for kids to stay out of trouble and keep their grades up. Any kid that is interested in playing is welcome to come out.”
Last year two of TYF’s teams earned Super Bowl trophies, the Rookie and JV Vikings. Lewis is optimistic that this year will bring the same level of success to TYF, if not more.
“Both teams are always competitive. We like to think that at least three Turlock teams will reach the Super Bowl each year,” Lewis said. “Our league is set up with the CCC teams so these kids are facing the same kids they’ll play in high school.”
TYF’s tryouts will extend into this week, giving potential football players and their parents a chance to come out for the fun.
While the TYF squads were holding try outs, the Turlock Titans were across the field already participating in their first week of full practice. Players sported white helmets as they ran laps, executed plays, and performed calisthenics. Even the cheerleaders got in on the action.
In total, an estimated 150 football players and 65 cheerleaders came out to join the Titans, half of which had never played football before. Unlike the TYF, the Titans did not hold try outs. Instead, they welcomed kids on a first come first served basis.
“We give every kid the opportunity to learn the game,” Titan president Paul Gonzalez said. “If these kids want to come out and play football, we’re going to let them play.”
In only their third year of existence, the Titans are looking forward to an exciting season in which they hope to build on their past success. Still, with no weight limit and a minimum 10-play rule for each player, the Titan’s main goal is to facilitate a safe and fun learning environment for the kids.
“Everybody wants to win and go to the Super Bowl, but we want to make sure the kids have a good time too,” Gonzalez said. “Win or lose, each one of these kids are champions.”
Despite the minor differences between the teams and leagues the tenets and goals of youth football remain: Discipline, self control, respect, and fun.
The Titans will kick off their season on Aug. 18 against the Houston Huskies. The Vikings and 49ers will compete in a round robin in Livingston on Aug. 11 before their first game against the Los Banos Wildcats and Central Valley Seahawks, respectively, on Aug. 18.