Kids with the Friday Night Flag Idaho Falls league play a game. | Courtesy Reese Shurtliff
IDAHO FALLS — Idaho Falls is the newest location to join a popular flag football league — Friday Night Flag.
The youth flag football organization is an NFL Flag affiliated league open to boys and girls, starting in kindergarten through eighth grade. Idaho Falls league director Reese Shurtliff said Friday Night Flag is the largest flag football league in Idaho. Between all six of its locations — Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Pocatello and now, Idaho Falls — he estimates about 4,000 kids a year play the game.
Shurtliff told EastIdahoNews.com he wanted to start the league in Idaho Falls after watching the Boise and Meridian leagues, which his brother-in-law oversees.
“I’ve seen how the kids loved it over there,” he said. “It’s NFL flag affiliated so they were all wearing NFL jerseys. I thought it’s a totally different experience.”
The Idaho Falls league launched during the spring and had a “tremendous response,” according to Shurtliff. He said 230 kids participated in the first season and that number increased to roughly 270 kids this fall.
All games are played at Community Park in Idaho Falls. A season is five weeks long and there’s a two-week playoff that Shurtliff said everybody qualifies for.
“We’re trying to make it a positive experience combining sports and exercise in a team environment where kids can feel good about themselves and excel,” Shurtliff said.
Players get an NFL jersey, shorts and flags to keep, with the opportunity to order matching NFL socks and sleeves to go along with their uniforms.
He mentioned Friday Night Flag is also unique because the game is played with limited physical contact.
“It’s noncontact, which is unique for football so no blocking, no tackling,” Shurtliff explained. “Catching, throwing, juking and avoiding tackles, it’s all there, but they do it without the pads and without the contact so the kids can learn it without as much risk of injury or concussion.”
Courtesy Reese Shurtliff
Along with helping develop player’s skills, Shurtliff said one of the goals as a league is to get flag football as a sanctioned high school sport for girls in Idaho.
“At the college level they just made flag football a scholarship level sport for girls,” Shurtliff said. “We want to give girls the opportunity to have a future in high school and beyond, and the first step is getting that as a high school sport.”
Shurtliff explained there have been city-run type leagues before, but there’s never been a “well-organized private league,” and it’s something he believes can benefit the area.
“As our communities grow, we need the next level of league play,” he said.
Spring registration begins at the end of October and early registration is $95. To be placed on a team, parents can put in a friend request, coach request or provide the name of the child’s school and the child will be put with other kids in their area.
To learn more about Friday Night Flag visit its website, Facebook page or Instagram page.
Friday Night Flag Idaho Falls champions. | Courtesy Reese Shurtliff
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