SDSU FCA Flag Football, a Sunday Tradition
Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium was built for Saturdays, but on fall Sunday afternoons the turf is still full of life with the FCA Youth Flag Football Program well underway.
“I think sports teaches us a lot of things, right? It teaches us about ourselves, but I think God created us to move around and have fun and it teaches us a lot about Him too. So, pretty special deal for sure to hang out with all these kids and athletes today,” South Dakota State Director of FCA T.J. Carlson remarked.
The idea first began with Brian Hansen, who runs the FCA Flag Football League in Sioux Falls, but Carlson wanted to put his own touch on it.
“When I came on staff with FCA, I saw what he was doing and thought, ‘Oh that’s really cool.’ But I was the chaplain for the Jackrabbits and thought, ‘Ah what's kind of a unique twist on to this?’ And so, I talked to coach Stig at the time and said, ‘Hey, what’re you thinking if I ask guys on their one off day on Sunday afternoon if they would do this,” Carlson said.
“I think we started with eight teams and about 70 kids in 2014, and here’s where we are now with 24 teams and about 280 kids.”
Each team is coached by at least one, if not two SDSU football players, but almost every other SDSU athletic team is represented as well.
“It’s a Sunday fill up. It starts my week off right, I come here and have a time; throw some bad passes to kids but, honestly, every time they’re celebrating and having fun it’s just awesome,” SDSU senior tight end Kevin Brenner said.
“I remember several years ago Dallas Goedert right over here caught a one-handed catch in the end zone on Saturday night and then Sunday afternoon every kid is over here trying to practice a one-handed catch,” Carlson remembered.
Each team begins with Chalk Talk, where they discuss life, followed by drills and practice. Then it's time to compete, with each team being named after an NFL franchise due to a partnership with NFL Flag. And there's even a message about faith.
“Sometimes hard things will happen in your life, but just know that you always have God around you and it is always going to be better on the other side,” SDSU junior quarterback Mark Gronowski told the crowd of children and parents.
The day certainly has an impact on the kids, and it undeniably does on the athletes as well.
“Believe it or not, I’m a terrible talker and stuff. So, when I’m trying to coach a team I have to be that coach to those kids and be vocal. So, they help me do that,” SDSU senior guard Evan Beernsten stated.
“Growing up, I didn’t really have that secure father figure in my life. So, I feel like any opportunity I get to kind of just, not be that to kids, but just pour into kids and love on them a little bit, it does something to me, it does something to me,” SDSU senior linebacker Saiveon Williamson said.
SDSU FCA Flag Football will take a break this week with the football team also on a bye week, before picking up action once again on Oct. 1.