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Johnp2

How Would You Handle This?

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We had our first practices this week. I am coaching 8-9 year olds. I've got three new players. One of them is INCREDIBLE---definitely will be a top player in our league. The other is new to football, but very smart and athletic. The third one--well, he is very small and timid. In fact, it stood out so much his mom approached me after the first practice and asked, "Why are the other kids so much bigger and faster than my son?" I replied we have a few fourth graders. She was shocked and said, "My son is in the first grade. He just turned seven two days ago."

So....it turns out that I have a player that should not be in our league. However, I informed her that if he wanted to stay, I have no problem with it and ensured her that he would be given every opportunity to succeed. We talked about waiting another practice to see how it goes. After the next practice it was clear he is in way over his head. Again, it's not his fault. He is new to football, and is playing with kids 2 or 3 grades higher than he is---and that is a HUGE difference at this age, as you know.

After the 2nd practice, she emailed me saying that she spoke with her son, and he is indeed really "intimidated" and their family feels he should be placed in the correct league for him (6-7 year olds). I told her no problem and approached our league about it.

It turns out the league is pushing back on her now. They are claiming there is no room in the 6-7 year old league. Thus I am stuck in the middle here as the league is really trying to get me to keep the player, but he and his family don't want to be on the team. He missed the third practice this week (which just put him further behind). My thought is that the league made this mistake and it is up to them to rectify it. I've had over the max players many seasons, and feel they will be doing this player a disservice by putting him in a league where he simply does not belong.

I'm curious as to how you coaches would handle this. Again, if the player and his parents wanted to be on the team---I would fully welcome it. However, I personally don't blame them. If they put my son (9) in a 11-12 year old league and it was clear he was going to struggle mightily, I would not be happy about it either.

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Im all about the kids when it comes to this and thats the reason why she needs to push back to the league about this.He should not be playing in your age bracket.I would tell her to inquire about getting her money back then.But its going to be a long season for him/family if he does stick it out.Thats like putting a freshman on varsity football.Just isnt right and shouldnt happen in any case.I honestly cant believe they cant fill 1 spot.Too hard to believe

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I agree for all the reasons you mentioned he should be playing at the younger age level. It should be up to the league to correct this ASAP. I'm not a lawyer but I bet if someone explained to them the potential legal ramifications of a younger and undersized kid potentially getting injured by the larger, older and faster kids after the parents and coach has repeatedly asked for him to be moved, they'd get the picture.

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I wanted to follow up that after missing another week of practice, the mom emailed me and stated the league said the teams in the 6-7 year old are full. Consequently, I have a player that just turned 7 on April 23 in an 8-9 year old league.

This is okay, however. I told the mom we would welcome him with open arms, which I have. He seems like a great kid, and his mom is very nice. His dad is in the military deployed in Iraq. I have no doubt he will have an incredible time with us this season and be a key contributor.

I'll keep you posted as to his progress. ;-)

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I think it is a shame that they couldn't find a place for him, and feel that would've been the wiser approach.

But that's me, and I'm not there.

I just hope that it does work out for you!

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I wanted to follow up on this thread concerning this player. We just finished our regular season (7-1) and are looking forward to the playoffs. The player mentioned in this thread has been OUTSTANDING! He's learned so much and is actually a threat to be reckoned with now. I've played him at Center, and he has scored multiple TDs. Our fans root extra loud for him because they all know he's playing with/against kids nearly three years older than him. Best of all I can see he is having the time of his life on the football field!

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This type of situation you are describing is a common thing where I´m standing at, football is so hungry for players that we often recur to having younger kids in a category, soccer is the big sport here,99% of people prefer this over any other, the 1% left is shared by the rest of the sports, so you can imagine. League knows this and specially about small independent and new teams like ours, so they are really not so hermetic about having one or two younger kids, what is absolutely not allowed is the other way around (having a bigger kid that the category aging allows), in my case if I don’t have enough kids to play their respective category I jump them up to the next one, I prefer using them as backup and give them some field time, than saying “hey we don´t have enough player to open your category so see ya next season”. As you say with this kid, some of them regardless they are younger have enough physically and mentally to play with guys a little bigger than them.

I just once had a problem with this and was so ridiculous, last year in the 10-11 kids we beat this team, the other team coach was so angry that he asked the league to forfeit the game since we played with one kid younger and that didn’t comply with ruling, strange thing is he dident care about my roaster at the begining of the game, I didn’t make a big thing about it and took the forfeit, I simply told my guys we had won the game regardless of what the official score said, my guys didn’t care about the forfeit they knew they where better.

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hey John...just read the thread about the first grader playing with 3rd and 4th graders...glad it worked out and he didn't get hurt....but the league was a bonehead in my opinion and Orange was right, had the kid gotten hurt there could have been a lawsuit...but on that note, it is amazing what level younger kids can rise to...I'm a Y flag division director and had to fill in for a coach the first week last weekend...played my first grader (cause they were way short on kids) with 3, 4 and even a 5th grader and he held his own....like you, I found his strengths...he's a super fast squirrelly kid who made the QB's life ###### on the rush. Bravo to you to keeping the little kid on board...that's what good coaching is all about and he'll NEVER ever forget that experience or you...the coached who believed in him.

Roy

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Thanks for the kind words, Roy. It has been a real blessing having him, and it did add an interesting (positive) twist to our team. He's having so much fun, he wants to play on my team next season (10-12), but I explained to him to he can just go dominate kids in his own age-bracket--and I'll continue to follow his playing career--like I do all former players. ;-)

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