While most local activities and events have seen a reduction in attendance over the past year due to the pandemic, that hasn’t been the case for Green Hornets football. While the program had a sharp decline in the number of overall players in 2020 because of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, 2021 became something of a renaissance for the program as it nearly doubled in size from the previous year.
According to Brian Ferguson, the football commissioner for Green Hornets, the program grew from just six teams in 2020 to 11 in 2021. That enabled the program to have two teams in the 10U, 11U, 12U and 14U age groups. Ferguson thinks a combination of factors led to the program growing as much as it did.
“We offered a flag football league in the summer [of 2021],” Ferguson said. “Marketing and recruiting all played a role as well. The best sign that the program is healthy is that our younger age groups are finally fielding teams again.”
While the growth was great, going from six to 11 teams meant that Ferguson had to do some coaching recruiting as well. Four new head coaches and 15 assistants were found to help lead the new teams. Rich Prengaman was one of the people Ferguson reached out to and asked to come back and coach.
“Ferguson had told me that the Green Hornets football program was experiencing a surge in popularity,” Prengaman said. “It seemed like all of the kids and their parents wanted to get back to sports and team activities after sacrificing 2020 to COVID.”
Prengaman also believes that the strides the program has made to make football safer is why so many kids came back to play.
“We have new helmets with greater protection,” he explained. “And we have new techniques for tackling that prevent head-to-head collisions.”
With the jump in players came an increase in the amount of success Green Hornets saw in 2021.
“We had all of our teams but one make the postseason,” Ferguson said. “I have to give credit to the great coaches that took time to volunteer and work together that led to the organization’s tremendous growth and success in 2021.”
For 2022, Ferguson doesn’t think that the program will see a regression in the number of players and teams it fields.
“The outlook is great as we will continue our flag football league in the summer,” Ferguson stated. “I think our growth will continue steady. The best sign of our organization’s growth is our younger age groups are finally fielding teams again. Success is not always the wins and losses but building young men and women into respectable adults.”
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