The AMA youth football program isn’t lacking in many areas. There are dedicated coaches looking to build a winning team. There is plenty of equipment for players of all sizes. And there is enthusiasm with seemingly everyone who is involved with the program.
The one thing the AMA program is lacking more than ever is players.
With numbers at an all-time low, the AMA Bullfrogs don’t have enough players to field a varsity team. With only nine varsity players signed up to play, a league decision was made to momentarily disband the varsity team and allow the nine varsity players to join the junior varsity squad and a couple of JV players will head down to the novice team.
But just because the Bullfrogs, who are made up of players from Angels Camp, Murphys and Arnold, don’t currently have the numbers to fill a varsity roster, doesn’t mean that will be the case all year. There is no deadline to sign a child up to play, so should more players decide to play, the varsity team could eventually see action. With the hopes of a varsity team being filled, scheduled opponents will get an automatic win against the Bullfrogs until a team can be fielded.
Nicole Bain, who is the AMA youth football director, has a couple of ideas as to why the numbers have dropped from 44 in 2018, to 34 just one year later.
“I think a lot of it has to do with travel sports,” Bain said. “We have a lot of kids who travel out of the area and play sports year round instead of just playing here. Also, we have low numbers because we don’t win very often, so kids don’t want to come out. But we don’t win because we don’t have a lot of kids. It’s a catch 22. If we had more kids with higher numbers, we’d have better odds at winning.”
There is a $100 fee to play, but Bain doesn’t want that to be the reason why a kid cannot play football. If payment is an issue, there are a number of ways to circumvent that dilemma.
“We offer scholarships and can also do volunteer time in lieu of payment,” Bain said. “They (the parents) just have to talk with us and we’ll work with them.”
On Monday afternoon, members of the AMA JV and novice teams practiced at Copello Park in Angels Camp. They ran through drills, conditioned and listened to coaches explain the X’s and O’s of football. As Bain watched, she could only hope that more kids will make their way up the gravel driveway and step onto the gridiron.
“We’d like to have players out as soon as possible so they could play most of the season,” Bain said. “But as long as they come out and play, we’ll take them on the teams.”
Bain encourages parents to come to practice and see if playing football is a good fit for their children. Practices are 5:30-7:30 p.m., every Tuesday through Thursday at Copello Park in Angels Camp. More information can also be found at amayouthsports.com and Bain can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If they want to come out, we’d definitely love to have them out here,” Bain said. “It’s fun and we’ve got very motivated coaches who want to help the kids learn.”