“We teach them the fundamentals, life skills and keep them doing something healthy and productive with their time,” said Key West native and coach of a quarter century Peter Estevez, who started coaching his children and now is coaching his grandchildren.
He has seen the Key West Youth Football league grow over the years. Players have gone on to play college sports and the pros.
More kids are playing now, some coming all the way from Marathon because success breeds popularity. A very important trophy is housed in the small office trailer on George Mira Field.
“The 165 team won the Orange Bowl against Palm Beach last year at Florida International University and it was the best youth game I have seen in my life,” said Estevez, referring to the team’s division where no player could weigh more than 165 pounds. “With three seconds left, Donovan Mompoint caught a ball that popped out of the running back inches from the end-zone to win us the game 12-6.”
Estevez, his daughter-in-law Trina and Jerry Kelleher are coaching the Key West Youth Football league this season and sign-ups just started last weekend. The games begin in late August and the league features four divisions — flag plus three age divisions.
Division C is for 8 and 9 year olds, Division B is for children ages 10-11 and Division A is for 12 and 13 year olds- before they enter high school. Passing, catching and tackling are developed as are team skills and leadership. Jerry Kelleher just moved from Ocala and was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming the league was for his son.
“A lot of times you have to be in social groups to get picked to play on the team you want. Peter treated my son Kolby as one of his own. He goes above and beyond to make everybody feel accepted,” said Kelleher.
Like many coaches, Estevez is committed to the players. It’s not uncommon for him not to provide coaching and a ride to practice.
“Those boys that I pick up play hard. Without a ride they could be missing an opportunity to find something they have a passion for,” said Estevez.
Aside from players, the staff is also seeking coaches. Trina admits it is not easy at times but watching them succeed and have fun is rewarding.
“It is not easy for cheer and football coaching. It requires patience; it takes time. But there is nothing like the impact you have on them,” said Trina.
Key West junior cheerleading tryouts are May 5-9 and coaches from Key West High School come to help out and support the community. A parent needs to be present to sign and the cost for both football or cheerleader registration is $100.
For more information, search Facebook for Key West Youth Football.