Soccer and Football in LansingFall Recreation Department programs have launched, and that means soccer for grades K-6 and Football for ages 12 and under has begun.  Lansing Recreation Director Steve Colt says that enrollment has been so good for the two sports that his department has had to establish waiting lists.  About 184 kids are enrolled in soccer teams, and over 80 more in football.  A week ago 46 soccer coaches met to organize select their teams.

"It's a great turnout," says Colt.  "It should be a really good in-house season.  They did a great job of going through our system to talk about expectations, equipment, rules, scheduling, and choosing their teams. 

Colt says kids will all get to play every session and get a lot of attention from their coaches because the Based on the roster sizes are small.  Enrollment is full, but the Recreation Department has active waiting lists.  If enough kids sign up to form an additional team they may get into the program if a coach can be recruited.  36 kids are signed up for six Kindergarten level teams.  56 are enrolled in eight 1st and 2nd grade level teams (six per team).  On the 3rd and 4th grade level there are six teams with a total of 49 players signed up (seven per team).

"We're not going to let our rosters get bigger than they can be," Colt says.  "We wait-list kids that are still trickling in.  Once we hit a target team number -- which would be six -- and we have a coach that wants to step up, we'll add a team.  We can break the kids down more with help and work on skills and drills.  That's what this is about, keeping our kids safe, skill development and letting them play each time.  That's the fun part.  It may not look a lot like soccer, but the kids love it and they'll improve."

44 players are signed up for the 5th and 6th grade teams (eight per team), three boys teams and three girls teams.

"The 5th and 6th is a unique situation this year.  The teams are not going to be co-ed.  We've used a one-team concept there, because that's the level where kids start to break away from us and go to these private club teams.  This year our numbers have risen.  As of today (Wednesday) we have a perfect split of 22 boys and 22 girls.  That's probably the right way to do it because the 6th graders are going to move into the modified teams next year, and that is not co-ed.  At some point in age for Middle School kids they don't necessarily want to be co-ed.  This may show that by splitting at that age group for us, we may actually attract more players."

Colt says he is hoping for good weather because the season will be short.  Labor Day was late this year, and the timing is such that each of the grade levels will only have 11 sessions.  The season will end at the middle of October.

"That doesn't seem like a lot for all the work that goes into this," he says.  "And that's saying that we get perfect weather conditions.  If we get an awful weather night we will have to cancel.  If we conflict with school functions we have to get creative with how we make it happen on that night."

The Small Fry and Flag football programs have also filled up this season.  Football teams do some travelling to play with other teams whose town programs have chosen to compete.  It is a non contact version of the game.  The YFL Small Fry League teams play full contact football with the equipment that football players wear.  Colt says he was surprised at how good a turnout the football programs had this season.

"Over the last few years football has had a hard battle competing with other sports," Colt says.  "The fear factor that goes along with injuries that could happen.  They could happen in any sport, but it's in the news.  It's talked about at the dinner table with parents.  We really thought we might have to take a season off for one of our two teams.  As it turned out, we got a really good number.  We're in the low 20s for our junior team (ages 10 and under), and our senior team (12 years old and under).  And we've had a really good turnout for Flag.  We had to split that into junior and senior levels.  We ended up with two older level teams and one younger level team.  The numbers are very healthy."

Colt says the numbers aren't as high as they were 15 or 18 years ago, but are better than he expected this year.  The football programs are underway, and run through October.