Hornet dodgeball showdown raises funds for youth football

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By Derek Kim
Williamston Post staff writer

It is Friday at 6 p.m. Williamston High School’s gym has a full house. Artists like Ke$ha and Bruno Mars blare in the background as colorful fashions enhance the atmosphere. No, it was not another school dance.

Williamston youth tackle football held its second annual Hornet Dodgeball Showdown on March 23. Contestants filled the gyms of the high school for family-friendly competition.

The Pink Panthers take of Tic Tic Boom in the third through fifth grade division.

The Pink Panthers take on Tic Tic Boom in the third through fifth grade division.

“The funds help us provide equipment for our players. Last year, with these funds and others, we bought 50 brand-new helmets. Our goal is to put a newer, up-to-date helmet and a nice pair of shoulder pads on every child in our program,” said Steve Berg, youth football board member.

Berg said last year’s inaugural tournament raised about $1,000.

“We see it as a multi-year investment to build up our inventory of equipment. We don’t want to starve the budget for the families, especially those with two or three boys in our program,” Berg said.

Participants could compete in one of three divisions depending on their age: third through fifth grade, sixth through eighth grade and high school/adults.

Berg said most players in the youth football committee go on to play for the high school. He said the goal of the program is to create a healthy environment for young men to learn football.

Head football coach Steve Kersten helped coordinate the event. Kersten, who will enter his twelfth season this fall, said he was excited for the growth in teams this year, from 17 to 33.

“You would be shocked. It’s made up of more youth and adult teams than kids,” Kersten said.

Kersten’s responsibilities included maintenance and reserving gyms, however, the coach said the youth football committee deserves all the credit for the time and energy it dedicates to pull off the event.

Approximately 125 players make up the youth football program. The league is part of the Aupang football conference, a larger youth football organization of communities in the greater Lansing area.

Marlo McCutcheon volunteered to register players Friday evening. McCutcheon, who has two boys in the program, said she enjoyed being part of an event the entire family could participate in.

“The tournament brings the communities and families together,” McCutcheon said.

Donna Mahaney, another parent with a child in the program, said she decided to contribute by competing in the adult division. Mahaney’s team was composed of other mothers of players.

“The kids love it. They get so competitive,” Mahaney said.

Mahaney’s team came dressed in brightly colored wigs and athletic gear. The team was one of many that competed for “best/craziest team uniform.”

Among the many comical uniforms and names such as “Tic Tic Boom” and “Still Can’t Touch This” were the Pink Panthers, a team of boys who won the uniform contest while competing in the 3-5th grade division.

The Pink Panthers were awarded gift certificates for their flamboyant uniforms of pink tutus and hair spray.

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