Under the Lights is a national youth flag football league for kids in 1st-8th grade. This past season, local coach Andy Sims invited a group of young athletes to play on his competitive flag football team, a K-2 division for the Jacksonville-Mandarin (Northeast Florida) league. Andy coaches for several rec associations – in more than 30 sports – but for this league, he hand-picked kids from several different teams. “I see what kid has the best skill in the sport,” says Andy, “and go from there.”
These boys put in their all every Friday night, and their hard work recently paid off. This team was the first in the Northeast Florida league to win the title of State Champion. This win secured them a spot in the National Championship game hosted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in early August – a tournament that will feature 60 league champions from across the United States and Canada.
According to Andy, the reasons why being a part of such a league is beneficial for these kids are numerous. Not only does the team help to keep them active and get them outside, it also teaches the importance of time-management skills and gives them a healthy competitive drive. Being on a team such as this shows each member that while everyone may not contribute the same skill, they all put forth something outstanding.
“Each kid has an individual skill,” says Andy, “and when you put that together to form a team, they’re unstoppable.” These boys are learning that “we’re all different, but we all have value.”
If you’re interested in getting your child involved, you can reach out and have them paired with a rec league that is best-suited for their skillset. Even if your child has never played before, this league has a “no child left behind” attitude that will be sure to help them succeed, and the Under the Lights League is active throughout the year.
“These kids are being allowed to learn more about themselves, dig deep, and show what they’ve learned both on and off the field,” says Coach Andy. “It’s really rewarding to watch for me, as a coach.”
Learn more about Under the Lights Flag Football by visiting www.uaflag.com.