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Madras youth tackle football is back after community donations help lower cost

'It's his love, it's his passion, and it’s everything to him'

MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- After some tough years post-Covid, youth tackle football is back in Madras.

The biggest factor is the support from the Madras community.

Last year, the program cost $500 a player.

This year, thanks to community business donations, the cost is down to $100, helping boost sign-ups dramatically.

“It was non-existent,” Madras High football coach Judd Stutzman said of the program last year. “Kids had to go somewhere else to play.”

Last year, the Madras Aquatics Center's youth tackle football league had just three kids signed up, including then-fifth-grader Vance Harris.

His mother, Angela Harris, said he loves football.

“He’d been playing flag football, and was super-excited about getting into a tackle football program,” Harris said. 

With the cost too much for many parents, the program was canceled.

Harris said of her son, “He was absolutely devastated. And really, my son doesn’t ask for much, but he begged me -- he was like, 'Mom, please find a tackle football program somewhere - I’ll play anywhere!'”

He ended up traveling an hour and a half each day to play in Prineville. 

This year, after donations from several local businesses helped cut costs, the program has more than 30 kids signed up.

“This program wouldn't have happened here in Madras if it wasn’t for huge donations by some really key players in our community,” Harris said.

Her son was happy to hear the good news. 

“He’s super-excited. and that’s really what he wants,” Harris said. “He wants to be able to play with his friends, and play with the kids that he’s going to play with all the way through high school. That was a big deal to him.”

The league will serve as a feeder program to Stutzman’s Madras High team.

“It's developing a love for the game at a young age, which I think has been missed,” Stutzman said. “Through flag football, you don’t really get to hit another kid, which is exciting, especially at a younger age.”

Harris said Vance enjoys the physical aspect as well.

“It's his love, it's his passion, and it’s everything to him,” Harris said. “He also likes other sports, but football’s his number one, and tackling is what he especially loves.”

Safety was another concern of local parents.

However, Harris said the program will help teach kids the right way to use their bodies as they transition from flag to tackle.

“We never want our children to get hurt,” Harris said. “But at the same time, I knew they were teaching him proper ways to hit, and that’s what’s going to happen here in Madras.”

Practices for the league start in early August.

The kids will play a six-game season against teams from Crook County, Culver, La Pine, Madras, Sisters and Warm Springs.

Article Topic Follows: Sports

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.


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