ST. PAUL - It was a quick five-week season, but for many young football players in St. Paul it was a month filled with learning and athleticism.
On Oct. 2, a group of junior high aged football players wrapped up the touch football season. During the week, the players would practice their skills and learn the terminology associated with football. Then, for four Friday nights in a row, the players split up into four teams and put those skills to work at the St. Paul football field under the lights.
When asked why coaches decided to proceed with a touch football league this fall, head coach Todd Tanasichuk says the idea of physical contact wasn't appealing this fall, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, they decided to offer young players a unique introduction to the sport.
Tanasichuk acknowledges that some parents are a bit "iffy" about the physical contact part of football, so this was a way to teach youth about the sport, without that worry.
He says the touch football season was a "resounding success" despite the season almost not happening. At the start of the season, there almost wasn't enough youth signed up. Thankfully, a few extra players hopped on board at the last minute.
Tanasichuk says it was "amazing to see the progression" during the short season. While St. Paul football teams may not be known for their catching game, there are now a number of young kids who can catch and throw a ball. He felt there was "some really good athleticism" showcased on the field.
"The kids just soaked it up. . . they caught on so quickly."
Tanasichuk added that the season was made possible thanks to the dedication of his four assistant coaches, who stepped up to lead each of the four teams in the mini-league - Dave McLellan, Derek Zapisocki, Kurtis Stolth, and Nathan Parsons. There were eight total coaches who lent a hand during the season.
Looking ahead, Tanasichuk says the aim is to have a spring season for bantam football in the area, starting in early April. The organization is still looking to take on more kids, and Tanasichuk says he will be working with other sports clubs in town to ensure kids who may want to play more than one sport, can do so.
As for senior high football, the future is still unknown since the team also falls under the Alberta Schools' Athletic Association. But, the hope is also for a spring season to take place, said Tanasichuk.