YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – It’s a great way for the youngest football fans to catch a pass or score a touchdown: Flag football is growing in popularity.
Chad Vodhanel has been coaching his son’s teams for Youngstown Youth Flag Football the last six seasons. “I just try to teach them little life lessons, you know what I mean?” asks Vodhanel. “Keep going. If you’re down in a game, keep your head up. Don’t ever give up. Just keep going.”
“And I think what it comes down to is parents want their kids to be safe,” Vodhanel continues. “They want them to have fun. They want them to be involved and learn the game of flag football.”
Elliott Giles is a coach and the league’s president. “It’s a really good sport, and you can really do a lot of things when you play flag football.”
Giles sees flag football as complementing tackle football, not replacing it. “The truth of the matter is we’re just here as a different option. If a parent chooses to play tackle, we support them 100 percent. But if they want a different option for their kids, Youngstown Youth Flag Football offers that for them.
Because the league is getting more kids, the league outgrew its former home at Boardman High School and has started playing at Mill Creek Park’s Rocky Ridge Area.
The mother of 7-year-old flag football player Nathan King likes the new location. “He gets to play at the playground if there aren’t games going on. We have some downtime. Just more space for the fields. We can go through the park later and stuff like that. It’s by far the best decision made. It’s great.”
Since 2010, the NFL says the number of kids in their flag football leagues has doubled.