LUSK – Young athletes in Lusk recently wrapped up their flag football and volleyball seasons.
Flag football, while not in its first year, looked a bit different as Lusk lacked any nearby opponents. Chelle Fife and her husband, Camron, stepped up to coach to keep the sport going. Because there were no nearby teams to compete with, the roughly 24 players practiced on Tuesdays and Thursdays and played just one game, a scrimmage among themselves on Oct. 17.
The season wasn’t Chelle Fife’s first as a flag football coach, as she coached her son Aiden’s team in Colorado in the past.
“It was a lot of fun, my husband really enjoyed it,” she said. “He was excited to see some of the potential in some of the players for actual peewee football.”
Flag football is a good alternative to tackle football for young kids, Fife said. Aidan is seven years old, so he plans to start peewee football next year and to hopefully continue with flag football as well.
The flag football team this year consisted of players around Aiden’s age.
“I have nothing against regular football, because my son would actually like to play next year,” Fife said. “But minimizing a lot of that contact and getting the fundamentals down for football while they’re young without injuring them is our goal.”
Fife said she and Jessica Yeager, Lusk recreation director, plan to reach out to neighboring towns about starting a flag football program to compete with Lusk’s.
“It would be awesome but if neighboring towns don’t necessarily jump on the bandwagon, we’re prepared to do more scrimmages next year,” she said.
This fall, Lacey Brott and Erin Hodge coached the town’s first youth volleyball league.
Brott coached Lusk’s roughly 15 players in third through fifth grade, and Hodge coached more than 15 kindergarteners through second graders.
Brott said it was difficult coaching at first, with so many players at varying skill levels.
“But it went really well, I couldn’t believe how much they improved over the seven weeks we had them,” she said. “It was fun to watch them every week.”
Hodge said she saw a lack of activities for her three young daughters and other young girls in town.
“I wanted them to get in the gym and get their hands on a ball,” she said.
The youngest players in kindergarten through second grade learn the basics, Hodge said.
Lusk’s youth volleyball team didn’t have any nearby opponents either, but they had the opportunity to take the court between Niobrara County volleyball’s junior varsity and varsity games Oct. 16.
The older team was going to scrimmage, Brott said, but they ended up doing drills instead.
“Once we got there, the net was a lot higher than what we had practiced with,” Brott said. “And they were nervous, there were people in the stands watching. We’re not quite to the control part of volleyball yet where it stays on the court most of the time.”
The girls had the opportunity to look into the future, being cheered on by the high school volleyball team and even joining a huddle with them, Brott said.
“The little girls just thought that was the best thing ever,” she said.
Fife along with Brott and Hodge said they are looking forward to next year and they hope their programs grow even more.
“It gives kids in this town a lot more to do,” Fife said. “I know that there’s 4-H but getting kids together for a team sport is really awesome to see.”