Sports

Marysville Knights teach football fundamentals

Donovan Ishmael, in white, tries to tackle fellow senior team member Austin Tank Ishmael in a tackling game-drill called Run For Your Life. -
Donovan Ishmael, in white, tries to tackle fellow senior team member Austin Tank Ishmael in a tackling game-drill called Run For Your Life.
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MARYSVILLE A favorite exercise of the Marysville Knights juniors and seniors football squad is a more physical version of the childhood playground game, Red Rover.
Five kids start on the ground while the rest of the team line up about 50 yards away on the other side of the field. At the coachs signal, the kids on the ground get up in full padding and helmets and tackle as many of their teammates as possible. The rest of the team runs across the field, trying to avoid getting tackled.
They call the game Run For Your Life.
Lynn Ishmael, who coaches the Knights juniors and seniors team, organized the Marysville Knights for kids between grades one and eight who want to learn the fundamentals of football.
The program is in its first year, an expansion team in the Western Conference Junior League where it will compete against more established programs in Stanwood, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo and Lynnwood, among others.
Ishmael said that he and his wife, Charlotte, helped start the program with the kids interests in mind. He said that while most of the coaches have children on a team, they are not out to make superstars of their kids.
Part of the challenge, he added, is adapting their coaching to each child. While delivering hits comes easily to some players, others are more hesitant.
Youre going to have kids that are afraid to hit, but you have to keep putting them out there in the hit drills. And theyre going to realize that if they dont slow down, it doesnt hurt, he said. You just have to keep working with them until they realize that Hey, it doesnt hurt if I hit correctly.
Charlotte Ishmael, who performs a lot of the teams administrative duties, explained that as many of the kids first exposure to football, the coaches ease players into the sport. In the peewee league, where some kids join as young as five or six, coaches teach players each of the positions on the field and basic plays.
When they move up to the 89ers third and fourth graders its just to build upon the foundation they got as the peewees, she said. Theyre still kind of young.
At the middle-school level, kids have a better grasp of the game and coaches try to teach reading their opponents and reacting instinctively.
Charlotte said her son Austin, or Tank as hes affectionately called, comes to the Knights senior team with four or five years of youth football experience. His relative experience to his middle-school classmates, many of whom are trying football for the first time, is part of the reason he plays for the Knights.
But Lynn Ishmael said the Knights evening practice schedule permits players to play for both their school and the league.
And though practice has been underway since late July, its not too late to join, he added.
Were there to teach them how to play football correctly and make sure they have fun doing it, he said.

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