By Charlene Smith
Pine Bluffs Post staff 

Passion, promises and football

There are not many things that I get passionate about. Okay, you’re right. If you’ve met me, you know I have a high level of energy and come off as very passionate. But usually it’s just excitement to see you, to talk to you, to be alive.

But true passion for me only happens on certain issues. I, like everyone else, want wars to end, poverty, hunger and child abuse to stop and someone to find a cure for cancer. However, I hate divorce. I hate people breaking their promises. And I hate adults shattering young children’s dreams with their agendas and control issues. Which, as it turns out, comes down to breaking promises.

My youngest son is in the youth football program in Burns. Pine Bluffs Little Hornets are in the same league as the Colts. Last year, after a few years of being bullied, not allowed home games, given refs that would prefer to see Burns and Pine Bluffs never get the ball, and generally treated like the ugly red-headed step-child of Laramie County, both teams opted to try a different league.

The coaches from Burns and Pine Bluffs decided to join the Torrington league. Torrington said they would “love to have you.” They talked about how the plays, rules and general league dynamic were the same as Cheyenne, but Pine Bluffs and Burns would have home games. The refs would be fair no matter what town, and the cost would be significantly cheaper.

They came to our teams with those promises. Volunteered them.

I mentioned to my oldest son how great it was going to be to get out of Cheyenne’s league and have home games. He said, “Mom, the enemy you know is usually better than the enemy you don’t.” He was right.

Slowly, week by week, information trickled down from the coaches to the parents to the players. The boys would not be running any special teams. (One of the points for little league football is to ready the sixth graders for junior high play, so they know the plays, giving our small athletic programs a better chance at the heavily funded 2A cusp teams.)

No player over a certain weight could touch the ball. No blitz. Oh, and Burns would have to split up their team. And no home games.

The final straw for the teams and the coaches is that they will not allow fourth graders to play. My son is in fifth so this doesn’t directly affect him. But his school mates who have been out on the field five nights a week for about a month will not get to play.

That hurts him.

Like most issues I get passionate about, I can’t do anything about it. I can’t stop divorce, make people stay together. I can’t make people keep the promises they make. I can’t keep every child’s heart from breaking. And I can’t make the Torrington league listen to our coaches and realize there is more to youth football than winning the game.

It sure feels like a kick in the teeth and I am just a parent, not a player or a coach. It’s like first and goal and we are told we can only punt.

The season will go on. My son, along with other fifth and sixth graders from Burns and Pine Bluffs will get to play a form of football. All in front of Torrington crowds with Torrington refs. But play nonetheless.

I would encourage you to take in one of the Pine Bluffs or Burns games. It will be worth the drive and the players will get a little more passion when they see purple and gold or orange and black fans watching them.

It might spark a passion in you.


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