Tiny Tigers: Football basics build teams

Parking spots are hard to find when the Galvez Tigers Youth Football Club players get together for practice.

The club, which has its roots dating back to 1974, practices on land at the end of Ball Park Road in the Galvez area.

With more than 140 players and two dozen cheerleaders, the practice field and the parking lots are crowded three days a week as parents, grandparents and football fans get their football fix.

The popularity of youth football is growing in Ascension Parish and the Tigers are feeling the crunch.

The Tigers play in the South Louisiana Youth Football Association. The association limits each team to 40 players, Tigers President Jarrad Poirrier said.

“We’ve definitely had lots of requests this season from parents who want their children to be Tigers,” Poirrier said.

Poirrier, 36, has a long history with the Tigers. He played “as a child at this park when I was nine.”

In addition to his duties as president, Poirrier is a B team coach and the father of a player.

Boys and girls ages 5 to 12 practice three times a week now that school’s in session. For the first few weeks of practice, the teams hit the field four times a week.

For D team coach Paul Gisclair, who coaches 5- and 6-year-olds, practice is about the basics of football.

“These kids know front yard football,” he said. “They don’t know terminology, and most don’t know positions.

“Most of them don’t know their left from their right,” he said.

Gisclair’s goal is to teach his young players the basics of blocking and tackling without getting hurt.

“I’m preparing them for that,” Gisclair said as he pointed to the C team, made up of 7- and 8-year-olds practicing just yards away.

The Tigers C team, the defending SLYFA Super Bowl Champions, strapped on the pads and donned helmets Aug. 8 for their first scrimmage of the new season against the Dutchtown Mighty Griffins.

Many of the players who won the championship moved on to the next age group, so the coaches were busy before the scrimmage going over the skills learned in the past few weeks of practice.

As the players ran, exercised, stretched and went over drills, Poirrier and club secretary Jena Yarbrough sifted through a storage container to find a jersey for a new players.

The container sat inside a large cargo container used to store the club’s equipment and supplies.

Yarbrough, with clipboard in hands, checked the size of the jersey needed and went on to her next task — getting her daughter to change from her football uniform to a cheerleader practice outfit.

Yarbrough’s daughter, Elise Hineman, 12, splits her time between cheerleading and playing football with the A team.

“I’m tired today,” Elise said as she grabbed her gym bag and went off to change.

Elise said that her game day routine will include a quick change, pompoms, football pads and a helmet.

“I love football and I love cheering,” she said. Elise also cheers for St. Amant Middle School.

Elise and the other Tigers start their season Aug. 31 at the SLYFA Jamboree in Live Oak.