Florala says ‘YES’ to youth sports

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 25, 2013

Florala youth football players compete in a game last season. The Florala YES program is a feeder program for the high school. | Courtesy photo

Florala youth football players compete in a game last season. The Florala YES program is a feeder program for the high school. | Courtesy photo

For a number of years, Florala High School has been working hard to get back to its former athletic glory.

A committee made up of Florala residents decided to come together to form the Florala Youth Education and Sports program as a means to help local youth participate in sports and provide a feeder program for the high school.

The Florala YES program will cater to kids from Paxton, Fla., Lockhart and Laurel Hill for right now, but is looking to expand, league president Newton Peters said.

“Any kid within the area who wants to play is more than welcome to participate,” he said. “There was a lively discussion to make sure we are not exclusive, but inclusive to out neighboring cities.”

The program’s original name wasn’t in line with what Florala’s youth sports program wanted to achieve, Peters said.

“The biggest aspect to the change is aligning the youth programs closely to Florala High School athletics,” he said.

FHS hasn’t had a winning decade since the 1970s, and that’s the only winning decade it has, according to the Alabama High School Football Historical Society. Additionally, former FHS coach Ariton Hudson and the Wildcats went 47-29 from 1993-2007.

Florala’s youth program had success last year by winning two football championships and two cheerleading championships.

Florala head football coach Justin Jones has been working together with the program’s youth staff and players at football camps to provide a similar environment of football in high school.

Jones said a youth sports program in Florala is so beneficial for the kids in many ways.

“I think it’s great that this community is coming together to really start to put an importance on youth sports,” the coach said. “It gives something these kids can be a part of. It’s a no brainer for a positive thing for this small town.”

Florala YES will also have cheerleading and other sports move into the program’s umbrella, Peters said.

Possibly in July, there will be a youth coaching clinic for area coaches to learn the specific and unique skills required to coach youth football. The clinic is free and open to all coaches form the surrounding counties.

Troy University head football coach Larry Blakeney is slated to be the speaker at the clinic.

The clinic will be geared toward coaching 6-to-15-year-old players.

On June 29, the program is sponsoring a NFL Punt Pass and Kick competition. The event will be held at FHS from 1-5 p.m.

“We feel (the Florala YES program) will help Florala be successful at the AHSAA level, and potentially create athletes to step into the college level and potentially the NFL,” Peters said.