Youth football was in full swing Saturday in Noblesville (Ind.) as four moms coaching tackle football for the first time took the field with their squads.
This year, the Noblesville Elementary Football League (NEFL) enlisted the four moms as coaches for two teams in the third grade division of tackle football. Corie Elkin (right) and Kathy Gutting (left) are the coaches of the Penn State team, while Jen Bilby and Robin Story lead the Indiana squad.
Penn State took the field first, taking on Clemson. Defenses were strong on both sides, but a late first-half run by Penn State put them up 6-0, a lead that held for the remaining two quarters, giving Elkin and Gutting their first win.
Elkin, who said the pace of the game was the biggest difference between practices and their first game, congratulated her team on a job well done following the game.
“We’re still learning things. We’re still going to figure out our positions,” Elkin said. “There was a lot added to this game. Punting, punt returns, kickoff … a lot of stuff that we hadn’t experienced yet.
“But we have it under our belt now, and we’re only moving forward from here. You should be proud of yourselves.”
Debra Mansfield, whose son Cooper is new to football this year, is pleased with the way Elkin and Gutting are handling the Penn State squad.
“They take the time to explain every detail,” Mansfield said. “I’m overwhelmed by the way they have managed the team.”
She said she has enjoyed the family atmosphere that the coaches have encouraged this season.
“It helps things stay positive,” Mansfield said. “They always redirect to make sure the kids have fun.”
Bilby and Story kept positive attitudes as their IU squad fell, 20-0, to Florida State in the following game. They saw some challenges in their first game but have a plan for how to approach the problems and improve as a team.
“The biggest challenge was to get the kids up and on the field, getting them in their positions,” Story said. “We need to work on that on Monday – getting from the huddle and to the proper forms and going from there.
“Other than that they went out there and they played hard. They kept real positive attitudes even though they were down in score … and I think they had fun.”
With a game under their belts, the Penn State and IU youth teams will look to improve each week. The two teams play each other Sept. 24.