I remember my first football jamboree when I was in the second grade.
I was playing for the Sammamish Bengals organization and we wore our ill-fitted brown jerseys and little orange helmets. Adrenaline flitted through me as I ran onto the field and lined up with my teammates. The thrill of that first live action in front of a crowd got me going. That day served as the starting point for many years of fun football memories and life lessons.
On August 25th, the Woodinville Junior Football Association will host something akin to that jamboree to kick off the new season. It’s called "Falcon Day," and 10 teams featuring 190 players from the association will line up and play inter-squad scrimmages at Pop Keeney Stadium in Bothell.
"We’re a feeder program to Woodinville High School," WJFA president Dave Baillie said. "Our kids range from elementary school all the way to junior high. The preseason scrimmage will be between the white and green teams. Each level has multiple teams. Each level will scrimmage each other at Falcon Day."
In the same way that Woodinville’s lacrosse and basketball feeder programs prepare kids for the high school level, so too does this football program.
"That’s our main focus," Baillie said. "We want to build on our culture of Woodinville Football and build on the popularity and the fun aspects of football in itself. And bring the community together all the way from the elementary schools to the junior highs and through the high school to create great programs.
"We’re most proud of our rookie teams because they’re the first year players," he said. "And watching them develop all the way up through the program, from rookie, to cubs, to sophomore, to JV, and then at the varsity level, before graduating to the high school level. There’s growth, maturity and development along that whole pathway. We call it the Woodinville Football Pathway."
As president, Baillie has extensive experience with the organization.
"I’ve been fortunate to coach all the way from the rookie level all the way to the varsity, and now be part of the leadership organization," he said. "And really develop a system approach to benefit the community around football. And that’s all the way from the littlest players out there that are just learning how to put their helmets on to the guys heading into high school. It’s fun to see the kids develop through that pathway. When they have experience at the junior level, they are that much better prepared for high school and greater success. It’s not only fun to watch them grow, develop and mature, but they’re also learning life lessons along the way."