Football isn’t just one of the most popular sports in the nation. It’s also one of the most expensive.
From pads to uniforms to safety-laden helmets, the sport isn’t cheap — and the cost often falls outside of what a high school program can afford, even with pay-to-play funds coming in.
That’s one of the reasons Sequim High football is hosting its first 7-on-7 Community Football Tournament, slated for June 8 at the SHS stadium.
The tourney is built to connect current players — the Wolves will likely field a couple of teams — with former SHS players and any others who want to field a team.
In the process, says Craig Frick, a substitute teacher, junior varsity coach and former Sequim High player, they hope to raise funds to pay for things like helmet safety checks, new uniforms and dollars for youths to travel to offseason camps.
“We want to do a lot for these kids,” Frick says.
Event organizers are doing that entirely through concessions on hand, since tourney registration is free. Groups can register as a full team of seven or event organizers will take fewer and place them on a team (no same-day registration, though).
“We want to get as many people to participate (as possible),” Frick says.
That may including getting recent and not-so-recent SHS alumni out on the field in addition to community members who simply want to play.
“As kids leave the football program, we want them to feel like they can come back, that they’re Wolves for life,” says Dave Ditlefsen, Sequim High School athletic director.
“I’ve wanted for a long time to involve the community in something like this,” says Erik Wiker, head coach of Sequim High School’s varsity football program. Going with a seven-on-seven, light contact format, he says, makes this tourney akin to an alumni basketball game.
Concessions include standard sports fare like hamburgers and hot dogs, along with items from Jeremiah’s Barbecue’s menu.
The SHS football booster club will be on hand to accept donations as well.
Families and friends are invited to watch for no charge.
The tourney starts at 4:30 p.m. and finishes under the lights at the SHS stadium.
The idea for the tourney came from Dana Minard, a language arts teacher at Sequim High School, who ran this kind of tourney as a fundraiser in California.
It was an opportunity for alumni to get involved, relive their glory days and give back to a program, Minard says.
“I would do a flag football game, not a 7-on-7, as I wanted to include the linemen. I would divide the alumni up into the younger versus older players. This would get the game hyped because of the ego, pride and competitiveness shown by all players. As a coach it was great to to see players I had coached the previous year come back and play. It also gave the community a sense of tradition that was being lost.”
“We all loved the idea,” Frick says, particularly that anyone can be involved. With all ages taking the field, it’s basically a non-contact (touch football) style of play.
“With the spirit of the tournament, anyone will be safe on the field,” Frick says.
Play format closely mirrors how the Wolves play in their spring football league:
Part of the spirit of the tourney, Frick says, is to ensure football remains a popular pick among Sequim High athletes. Wiker says the SHS team, one that finished 2-7 last season for its first sub-.500 campaign in a decade, is strong in numbers, with 30-40 taking part in an offseason weightlifting program.
“People have choices,” Frick says. “We don’t want our town to fall behind in attracting those kinds of players.”
Wiker says aspects of the program like offseason camps — camps these funds would help pay for — are a big benefit when it comes time for the regular season in the fall.
“They help a tremendous amount; you can tell the teams who have played together. They come out … ahead,” he says.