You may have heard that football programs for kids are having a hard time fielding teams due to concerns about concussions and other injuries. That's not the case for the Airdrie Storm.
Their program is encountering tremendous growth, to the point where it's adding a second Pee Wee football squad in the city. Head Coach Nolan Rohl explains that, over the last three years, they've seen the program grow from 70 to 80 players, up to 80 to 120 players and this year they'll have around 140 players in the Storm organization from Novice to Extreme Flag to the Pee Wee program. The Storm constantly has two teams in the Atom league and this year will field two teams in the Pee Wee league.
"A lot of that has to do with our core values," Rohl explains. "We want kids to have fun and have fun playing the game. We throw the football a lot because that's what they love, that's what they enjoy. We provide the best equipment we can get. The kids are in Xenith helmets, and we do off-season training so the kids are at a point where we're at a very, very low injury ratio, down in the zero per year range."
Rohl says it's been four years since the Storm has had any major injuries, barring a broken wrist on the first day of camp last season. They're also going into their fifth season without anyone suffering a concussion.
The Storm will field 30 - 34 players in the Tier One Calgary league. Rohl expects 30 players to turn out who'll play in the Central Alberta League, which includes Red Deer, Innisfail, Drumheller, Strathmore, and others. He says since the team has a 50 percent guaranteed playing rule through the season, it just made sense to expand instead of looking at cutting players.
Expanding to two teams might put pressure on the coaching needs of certain programs. Rohl says in Airdrie, that isn't a problem he foresees.
"Our volunteers are very passionate in Airdrie actually, in all sporting organizations so finding coaches for the Airdrie Storm organization has been very easy. Over the last few years we've grown from a coaching staff of six to almost 20 so expanding into the Central League should be very easy on our volunteers."
Both the Calgary and Central Alberta leagues start in August.
Interested players can go to the Airdrie Football website and go to the Pee Wee links to get more information, including on Spring Camps coming up.
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