Life lessons come first in youth football

Football is the true definition of a “man’s sport.” But nowadays, local kids don’t have to reach manhood before they can flex their muscle on the gridiron.

Gorge Youth Football is one month into its third season, and besides learning offensive and defensive formations, this group of fourth through sixth graders from Stevenson to The Dalles is also figuring out a few things about life.

“Football is the ultimate team sport,” said Hood River Green head coach and 2000 HRV graduate Mychal Lucas. “It teaches these guys a lot of life lessons like toughness, communication skills and working well with others. Football instills certain things in its players that many other sports can’t.”

Lucas’ team won the league title in 2001, and despite losing two of its top players (Shay Huskey and Travis Carratt) to the middle-school ranks, the team got off to a strong start, winning its season opener 52-0 over The Dalles.

“I started letting the linemen run the ball, but they were scoring, too,” Lucas said. “But it was also great to see Michael Smith come back and score a couple TD’s after missing last season with a broken arm. That was a big treat for the whole team,” he said.

Another local team, Hood River Blue, is also off to a fast start, posting victories of 14-6 over a solid White Salmon squad, and 34-0 over The Dalles to begin the season 2-0.

“The team is coming along really well so far,” said Blue head coach Erick Von Lubken. “Our kids have made a lot of progress since last year, and it’s been great to have so many returning players. That field experience is a really big key,” he said.

Although Von Lubken’s team has been strong out of the gate, he insisted that in Gorge Youth Football, winning is secondary to learning and having fun. With that in mind, league organizers decided not to hold a championship game this season.

“There’s too much emphasis on winning these days,” he said. “We want these kids to learn basic football skills and progress for the next year. They can worry about the winning aspect when they get to high school.”

Von Lubken and Lucas are both primarily focused on teaching the basics of tackling and blocking, while emphasizing safety first.

“The last thing we want is for a kid to get hurt,” Von Lubken said. “Safety is our No. 1 concern.”

Both Hood River Green and Hood River Blue play today in Stevenson, and have byes next week because of Labor Day.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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