By Alexandra SheaNovember 7, 2019
The 2019 season included many firsts for the Fort Jackson Junior Pee-Wee Football team. The team won local and state championships and were invited to compete at the regional level Nov. 2 in Greensboro, North Carolina. While the team ultimately lost the regionals, they have plenty to be proud of.
"There was just something special about this season from the jump," said Youth Sports and Fitness Director Darius Lane. "Outstanding season, they made a lot of history this year."
The Falcons were the first Fort Jackson sports team to win a regular season, win a state championship, win eight games in a season and the first team to ever earn a chance to compete at the regional level.
While this may sound like the work of a college athletic team, the Falcons consists of 24 players between the ages of 9 and 11. They face an unusual adversity each year on the field as well as in life - constant turn over. Unlike off-post local sports and high school programs, the team roster changes each year as children move on and off the installation when their Family moves. Each year the players have to learn to become a team.
"We PCS all the time so this group may never be together again," Lane said. "Just with us being a military program there's always going to be some challenges and your team changes every year."
While this season's team did have a few returning members, Lane attributes the team's "something special" to communication and lessons learned from the field.
The coaches instill a sense of discipline in the team throughout the season the. They taught that being a good teammate on and off the field along with a drive to work on their skills and school work will help set the team up for success on and off the field.
Advances in technology have changed the life of students dramatically over the past 10 years. Students often face challenges unique to the technology era that includes cyberbullying and social media pitfalls.
Coachs like Lane and his team often play dual roles when it comes to coaching, mentoring and helping team members cope with these life stressors.
"We are always talking about things that are bigger than football," Lane said. "I think once you build a relationship with these kids they are more prone to come and talk to you about a situation that happened at school or in the community or help with homework."
Lane and his team of coaches spend several hours four times a week with the team. The coaches are able to teach teammates how to use football to help deal with their life stressors in a health manner by talking about them and then leaving those stresses on the field. Lane said this helps the team be successful today and in the future.
Lane said as the Falcons recover from the 2019 season that included the "heartbreaking loss" of the regional championship, the coaches are already discussing lesson learned from this season to make the next season as successful as possible.
"They are still champs. They have a lot to be proud of and they have made a lifelong memory," Lane said. "They worked their tails off since Aug. 1 and I am sure they just made (all of) Fort Jackson proud. I am so proud of them."
For athletes interested in joining the Fort Jackson Falcons Pee-Wee football team, registration for the season will begin in June 2020. Contact the Youth Sports office at 751-5040 or 751-7451 for more registration information.