By Ashley Ferraro
Covid-19 has put a question mark on a lot of things for Parkland and Coral Springs families. Parents have been wondering when it will be safe to put their children back in classrooms, how birthday and holiday celebrations will be handled, and especially how their kids will be able to remain active and involved. However, one thing remained clear, taking sports away from the kids was not the solution to anything. Despite the obvious challenges that would come along with organizing an entire season of youth sports during a pandemic, Parkland Flag Football has proven to be a positive force in our community and, most importantly, for our children.
Amazingly, the 2020 Parkland Flag season had such a huge turnout, late sign-ups had to be turned away. With 60 teams consisting of both boys and girls, the league was overwhelmed with interest in their fall season. Of course, parents expressed concerns regarding Covid-19 protocols. In conjunction with the city, the league went above and beyond to ensure the children would only be allowed to practice and play in the safest environments possible.
“It’s been even better than I could have expected given the circumstances,” says Parkland Flag President Matt Kauffman. “We’re carefully following the protocol we’ve written, including no high fives and hugs. But nothing can take away the camaraderie of kids having a blast together on the field.”
The league is keeping a close eye on positive tests in schools and utilizing contact tracing to reduce the players’ chances of being exposed to the virus. By micro-managing the entire situation, they have been successful at keeping both the children and their families safe. Kauffman notes that the parents have been just as great as the kids. Family members wear surgical masks in addition to keeping an appropriate distance from each other while cheering on their young players from the sidelines, just as they have in past years.
“After contacting everyone from lawyers to insurance agencies to get this thing going, the crazy part is that everyone agreed. All of the parents signed the waivers and they agreed to follow protocols. It’s really an amazing sign of how strong the community is. For the sake of the kids, everybody did what was asked of them,” adds Kauffman.
Parkland Flag has offered a safe, healthy space for not only for the kids, but for their families and coaches as well. During the playoffs especially, the adults like to dress up, make banners, and get creative when it comes to finding fun ways to get the kids excited about games.
Kauffman claims he was truly shocked by the amazing turnout and support they received for the 2020 season. Some might find it difficult to imagine anything coming together so flawlessly in the midst of the Covid chaos, but Parkland Flag defied expectations by accommodating more players than ever while keeping everyone out of harm’s way. The only true bummer the kids encountered were the pesky rainouts. Welcome back to outdoor Florida sports!