Marc Oliver is pumped up and ready to go. He’s been looking forward eagerly to the first football practice with seventh- and eighth-graders at Cache La Poudre Middle School in LaPorte. This is season six for Oliver who makes his living as a custom saddlemaker and gives his time and talent every fall to coach the middle school football teams. “I have a blast and it’s my way of giving back to the community,” he said.
Cache La Poudre Middle School is about half the size of most of the middle schools in the Fort Collins area they compete against, but the teams are not fazed by this difference. In the 2016 season, the eighth-grade team had a four and three season, and the seventh-graders won three and lost four.
Seventh- and eighth-graders practice together. Last year, 20 kids turned out for the eighth-grade team and 18 seventh-graders hit the playing field. “Many of the kids have never played football before and aren’t very physical,” Oliver said. “It is satisfying to see them flying through the drills by the end of the season.”
There are no cuts. Everyone who tries out is welcomed as a member of the team. Oliver says that the school’s population represents a wide range of income levels and sometimes it is difficult for players to make it to and from practice because of working parents. Coaches and parents of other team members try not to let transportation become a barrier to practicing and playing for anyone.
Oliver and his coaching staff have all learned the Heads Up training system which gives coaches ways to teach kids how to tackle without causing injury to themselves or others. “We’re not into hitting,” Oliver says. “Our emphasis is on technique.” As a result, the team had no diagnosed concussions last season. Other types of injuries have also been reduced because of the training program. “We don’t have coaches who yell, either,” Oliver adds.
“To parents, I’d like to say that participating on a football team has benefits that far outweigh any risk involved. The kids develop a sense of purpose, get into better physical shape, bond with their teammates and learn about the importance of community through the experience.”
The team especially enjoys competing against Wellington and Lincoln Middle Schools. These are feeder schools for Poudre High School and give the young players a chance to get to know each before they become fellow students in high school.
The Cache La Poudre teams will be gearing up for their game against a strong team from rival Lincoln scheduled for 3:30 p.m. September 19 at Cache La Poudre.
Oliver encourages anyone interested to come out to their beautiful playing field alongside the Poudre River and cheer on the team.