Carson City kids play flag football

Kids tend to participate in the more popular sports such as baseball and soccer, but football is a sport that some parents don't let their kids play because of its violent reputation.

Well, Tracey Hudson and Jennifer Smith have come up with a safe alternative for those discouraged kids who weren't allowed to play football, or others who want something else do this summer. It's called the Carson City Flag Football League.

"I actually came up with the idea because I run the adult league, which my husband plays in," said Hudson, who is the league director. "Then my son said he wanted to play, so we started a kids league."

Hudson and Smith, who serve as the league's co-directors, used advertisements to spread the word, but it was primarily word of mouth that helped promote the league.

Seventy kids signed up and were split into in two divisions, which were determined by age. Division I is for kids 10-13 years old while Division II is made up of kids ages 6-9. The league is co-ed.

Most of the kids still play other sports, though. Shayne Mooney, 8, said the league has given him a chance to try something else.

"I like being the quarterback and throwing the football," said Mooney, who plays for the Wolverines in Division II.

There are four teams in each division, and the players were placed on a team based on their age and size. Smith said the league might add another division for older kids, depending on how the season goes.

"We thought that we should try and balance the teams like that instead of having coaches rank the players," Smith said. "That's what some parents say happens in soccer, but we didn't like that."

In Division II, coaches are on the field to help the kids set up plays. But in Division I, the coaches aren't allowed on the field and must call the plays from the sideline.

The league is part of NFL Flag, the first nationwide youth flag football league sponsored by the NFL. Teams picked their own names, but all of them wear San Francisco 49ers jerseys.

The teams play a seven-game schedule, and there is a championship game for each division in August. The field is half the size of a regular football field, and teams have four downs to cross the midfield line, or else the other team gets possession of the football.

Teams normally play one game a week, either on Wednesday or Friday. They began practicing in June, and some teams practiced three times a week prior to the season.

But now that the season has started, Smith pointed out that the teams don't practice as much, especially the younger kids.

"But all the kids have drastically improved since the their first practices" Smith said.

Hudson's 8-year-old daughter, Shawntay, who also competes in gymnastics, is the only girl in the league. But she's proven that football isn't only for boys. Shawntay, who plays for the 49er Midgets, ran for three touchdowns in her team's 27-24 win over the Wolverines last Friday at Carson Middle School.

"I like gymnastics better because you can show off your skills more, but I also like running for touchdowns," Shawntay said.

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