Partnership grows between midget, varsity programs

By on August 7, 2013

By:

TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor truth.eph@lnpnews.com

, Staff Writer

Part of Scott Shelley’s vision when he took over as Ephrata varsity football coach more than a year ago was to extend the program from the varsity level down to the midget ranks.

Now that plan is coming to fruition.

Over the past year, Shelley and the Ephrata Recreation Center, which overseas the midget football program, have worked hand-in-hand in making both programs one.

"What we’ve tried to do ever since Scott has been back is get the midget programs and the high school programs closer together," Ephrata Recreation Center Executive Director Jim Summers said. "Certainly the goal has been to have the good athletes out and have a lot of kids coming through the midget program, then going through to Junior High and then the varsity program.

"Last year we started with a few things. The high school guys did a camp in the summer for our midget kids. The high school coaches allowed our midget coaches to come to their pre-season camps, and even allowed them on the sidelines for some games last year, just to get a feel for what they were doing and try to get everybody together that we are on the same page here to try to make Ephrata football better."

According to Shelley, having a working relationship with the midget program is vital to the overall success of the Ephrata varsity.

"I try to tell everybody, we are all in it together so I want the midgets to be as much a part of the football program as the varsity players are," Shelley said. "That’s the idea of it all. And we want the (midget) coaches to learn the same things we are teaching our kids and be able to run the same offense and defense, so there is a continuation of the whole program from top to bottom. We want them to be able to know all the drills, the blocking techniques, what the plays are, defensively what we do. That’s critical in our scheme of things so we are able to teach the kids early on and just perfect their skills as they move forward.

"We look at it as we are coaching the coaches as well," he continued. "We want them to be right in the mix of things. I tell them to come to practices, they can be on the sidelines on Friday nights so they can see what’s going on…It’s extremely important to get everybody on the same page."

Summers is quick to point out there wasn’t a disconnection there between previous regimes. Certainly, former EHS coaches Ken Grove and Jim Vieland were always willing to help out. However, Summers says Shelley has taken it a step farther.

"I just think Scott’s thing is he just wants to be more visible, he wants to be the face of the program…The kids will see him at practice and at games, and just make it a more cohesive program."

Shelley is hopeful a little success on Friday nights can spark even more interest down below. Certainly, his enthusiastic approach hasn’t hurt as the registration numbers are up over previous year with 93 players signed up as of this writing, including a whopping 40 players for the D team level.

"The more success we can have at the varsity level, the more kids down below will see that success and will hopefully get excited about coming out to play," Shelley said. "It’s not a quick fix, I will say that. This is a three to five year process, but this has been a great start.

I want to be able to build from the ground up, so they have good discipline, we are building character, those types of things. the winning will come when all of those things fall into place. I’m convinced of that."

Shelley recently held a free week-long camp at War Memorial, and plans other events with the midget program throughout the year.

"(Working with) the midget kids is a win-win for everybody, as far as I’m concerned," Shelley said. "This is the way it has to be as far as I’m concerned and I’m just glad Jim has allowed us to work with them."

While time is winding down, Summers said there is still time to register for the Ephrata Recreation Center’s midget football program.

Practices will begin August 12 for boys ages 8-12 (age determined as of Sept. 1, 2013) weighing up to 135 pounds. Parents are urged to sign up as soon as possible though in order to file the proper paperwork. A physical examination is also required.

To register your child, contact the Ephrata Recreation Center at 738-1167.

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