Players introduced to soft-shell helmets at clinic

Seven years ago, Vince James started the Columbus Youth Flag Football League as an alternative to tackle football at the youth levels.

James, who had been a PAAL football director in Columbus, saw the benefits a flag program could provide for those hoping to play tackle football in middle school or high school.

“It provides safety,” James said. “It provides a true learning experience for all of the kids. We have some high ambitions for it not only to serve Columbus, but the surrounding areas, as well. With the concerns of the concussions of tackle football, this is a healthy alternative for those kids to do while they’re learning the fundamentals of football and developing skills.”

On Saturday morning, James conducted a flag football clinic at Central Middle School. The main purpose of the clinic was to introduce soft-shell helmets to the kids and have Columbus native and former NFL linebacker A.J. Edds speak to the kids about the benefits of flag football.

Players went through drills and had a scrimmage at the end of the three-hour clinic. Ten-year-old Rylan Londeree, who will be fifth-grader at Schmitt Elementary, said his favorite part of the day was the scrimmage, which ended in a tie.

“I learned that playing together is not so bad,” Londeree said. “Even though drills aren’t that fun, they’re actually good for you.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.