“Let the Big Guys Play!”

1For Erica Campos finding an activity for her 13-year-old son, Jeff was becoming increasingly more difficult each year.

Campos, a single mother of 3 from Lomita, found out early on that her son was little bigger than what most youth football organizations were willing to deal with.  “It was always either dieting to starvation or moving up to play with the older kids, and that just wasn’t happening”, Erica said while observing her now 5’11”, 195 pound 8th grader go through the drills offered at an off-season training camp.  “I didn’t want my son going up against older, smaller, stronger kids who really would just have a field day with him.  He never was able to play, so each year became increasingly more dangerous for him. I just never wanted him to be a target”.

8This is more often than not the sentiment shared by parents of larger kids who aspire to play youth football. Finding a program where their young athletes won’t be singled out in hitting drill simply because they’re a little bigger than the others is important.  “Playing up was never an option for us”, Erica said. “We always wanted to make sure he didn’t lose his desire for the sport, so we’ve been careful about where and who he’s associated with. It matters.”

Today, Erica got up early and hauled her future football player out to a training camp held by the LA Harbor Panthers of the AAU’s SCEYFL Youth Football League. Jeff seems to be doing well, going through the drills, running and laughing with the other 13 and 14-year-olds who will soon become his future teammates.  “I think I like it here!”, Erica was heard saying to another parent while both moms looked on during the 90 min skills and conditioning camp put on every Saturday at Normandale Rec Center in Torrance.

“Let the Big Guys Play!” That’s the motto of LA Harbor’s chapter President, Marshall Crawford.  “It makes sense to recruit and provide the fundamental training for these big boys”. Crawford says.  “They will never be fully prepared for the next level without it”.  “Prepare your child for High School Level – Come Experience The Fun!”

12What Crawford says is true. Statistics have shown a dramatic increase in childhood obesity in America over the last decade. Having larger inactive kids sitting at home, without the ability to participate in team sports will eventually produce an obese high schooler, and in time, an obese adult. Participating in youth sports is extremely important and should be promoted at the elementary and middle school level for larger kids.

For Erica, it’s about the 3 F’s she said. “Family, Football and Fun”.  It’s that simple.  She’s happy she’s found a home.