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Jan, 2014

Post Week 3 Presidents Message-We are a Kids First Organization!

Post Week 3 President’s Message-We are a Kid’s First Organization!

 Four years ago I had an idea to create a flag football league with a simple vision in mind: Create a Kid’s First Organization. Could a youth sports program really exist where parents are encouraged to step back while High School students take the reigns? How will parents react? Could we really create an environment where kids of all abilities can learn, grow, and truly enjoy the greatest game ever created---football?

 Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that today we would have over 1700 kids in four locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Never would I have thought that we could create a league where I can literally see kids AND parents changing right in front of my very eyes! Every Sunday/Saturday I stand on the field with my partners for over 7 hours and feel great joy when I see a young kid hustle after a flag pull it, stand up and smile. Or when another kid overcomes his fears of being involved in a team sport and gets better each and every week. Trust me it’s great to see the “Outlier” score five TD’s in a game…but it’s even better to see a kid who has never played or succeed in a team sport truly smile and swell with confidence.  

 When a high school ref makes a bad call this weekend (it will happen) or your child’s team loses on the last play of the game (great teachable moment) remember: “We are a Kids First Organization.” Challenge yourself to look at this league through the children’s eyes. This league not only exists in my vision to foster growth in children but also assist parents in finding the larger lessons learned through youth sports.

 I would like to share a few stories from this weekend that emphasizes our mission to put our children first:

Next Level Flag is a Kids First Organization:

Serra High School Location-PLAYER OF THE WEEK RYAN BUGG

 Ryan was a 10 LB baby at birth and suffered Erbs Palsy also called a brachial-plexus injury. A nerve in Ryan’s neck was fully avulsed from his spinal chord and now has extremely limited use of his left arm. Several surgeries in his young life could not bring his arm back to use…but this does not stop Ryan Bugg. Last weekend I stood in amazement as I watched Ryan lay down the BEST game in Next Level Flag Football history! In one game, Ryan had five interceptions, yes FIVE! He took two back to the house for TD’s and scored another one on offense. He was all over the field on defense pulling flags with his right arm, often times laying out for his teammates flying off the turf with rubber in his mouth and on his face, smiling ear to ear with a flag in his hand.

 There have been many times in my life Ryan where I have felt sorry for myself, made excuses why I can’t do something our doubted myself that something was not possible. Last weekend, through your eyes, you reminded me and now all of us that ANYTHING is possible. You reminded us that the human spirit is indomitable. Thank you for the show, thank you for inspiring all of us and GREAT JOB! (Ryan: Please hire me someday when I need a job and you are CEO of a major corporation-anything and everything is possible for you!)

 Next Level Flag is a Kid’s First Organization:


 I received a phone call this week from Bobby Carter, my St. Isidore’s and De La Salle classmate who told me the story of Mitchell Allan-Head Coach of the 4th Grade Cardinal, current Junior at San Ramon Valley High School and a Linebacker. Here is a quote from an email Bobby recently sent to me, “Since day one of Next Level Mitchell has been incredible with the kids. We have had team dinners with all the families and players, he has a friend of his take action photos of the kids during the games and even has a parent film our games. It is exciting to see all of our 4th grade Stanford players look up to him and get excited for Sundays!!The kids also can't wait for the high school season to start to they can go watch Mitchell play!”

 Mitchell, on behalf of the Next Level Sports Foundation we thank you very much for your priceless contribution to your team. You have gone above and beyond the call of duty, even organizing team dinners at Primo’s for the team (man I miss that pizza!). You have made us all believers that High School students can take accountability and show leadership to us all. Great job, keep it up, and the rest of you high school coaches feel free to follow in Mitchell’s footsteps!

 Next Level Flag is a Kid’s First Organization:

Marin Catholic/Marin Location: EMAIL OF THE WEEK

 I know this is a long post but allow me to share with you one more story. I received an email this week that deeply moved me. I felt honored and humbled that our flag football league help contribute growth in a young boy. As you watch games this weekend try to watch the games through your child’s eyes…through the eyes of his teammates...through the eyes of this young boy (For privacy purposes I am going to use my name-Patrick-and will not post the authors name at the end of the email):

 "I just wanted to let you know that I am very glad that you decided to have a league in Marin. My 9 year old son “Patrick” absolutely loves playing flag football. He has never been part of a sports team because of his anxiety issues. He quit after the first game of soccer last year. My husband and I are just in tears as we see “Patrick’s” excitement and love for the game. He wears his jersey almost everyday. I know that he is doing well because of how well managed it is on the field on game day. He can't handle chaos. He actually wanted to quit on the clinic day because he was so overwhelmed. Thank you for all your emails (Lance Smith-Marin Site Director) so we know what is going on. I really enjoyed your most recent email. Especially about how God made everyone different. I am sorry for the long email but I just needed to let you know that you guys have made a BIG impact on a 9 year old. You guys have done a great job in making a shy and anxious kid excited to play on a team."

 Another weekend of games on tap this weekend…lessons will be learned as we continue to re-define the definition of  “Winning” at Next Level Flag Football.

 God Bless,

 Coach Patrick Walsh

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