By Stacy Case
Of course just about everything and anything will have an asterisk beside it this year when reflecting on all of life’s events, but the Parkland Rangers Tackle Football Club made their mark regardless of the pandemic’s impact.
A couple of their teams went deep into the playoffs, and aside from that success, Rangers President Will Billings says just being able to get the kids on the field was fete enough.
“When we played the other teams, whether we were home or away, it just felt a bit different, in a good way,” says Will, of his four different age group (6U, 10U, 12U, 14U) Parkland Rangers Tackle Football Club. “We could almost sense that everybody was just happy to simply be out there; it was more about togetherness than competition because it was finally a reality for all of these kids in the (football) community.”
Though Will describes the atmosphere as more of a community-type feel, his teams still went out there to play hard; it was the Rangers’ 10U and 12U teams that both made it to the second round of the playoffs. Despite the program’s start date having been delayed several times and following strict safety protocols, the Rangers were able to have another successful season of play and suited up about 120 athletes.
“When we started the season, our goal was to just give them something to do, especially since they had all been required to stay inside for a while,” adds Will, of his Gold Coast Pop Warner organization. “We understand how challenging everything has been and didn’t even think of the specifics of the season until we found out we could actually have one. We then did what we needed and committed to get these kids a season in which to play.”
Aside from the program’s on-field successes, the sidelines took a bit of a hit as well. But again, the Rangers made adjustments and the show still went on. In fact, on any given Saturday, the Rangers‘ cheerleaders have exhibited boundless spirit for the teams but once the virus made its way closer, that was put on hold. However, their enthusiasm never took a back seat, as the squads mustered up a plan in which to stay safe while still prepping for performances. They had individualized virtual practices, meetings and events to aid in their team efforts. And once local mandates relaxed a bit, the teams safely got together to cheer!
This past season, the Parkland Rangers had three different cheer teams; Tiny Mites (ages 5-7), the Junior Peewees (ages 8-10) and Junior Varsity (ages 11-13) represent the program at Ft. Lauderdale’s Holiday Park Showcase in Oct.
“We intended to start a bit sooner with our conditioning, stunting, etc. but that certainly couldn’t happen,” says Kerry Fleck, head coach of the Junior PeeWees, whose squad went on past the showcase event to earn accolades at Southeast Regional and National competitions. “It was great to see them to not only finally have the chance to get back to cheerleading, but they all had such an incredible amount of athleticism and what they (can) do is very impressive.”
Both the football and cheer components of the Parkland Rangers plan on taking a break for a bit, only until registration resumes sometime in the Spring.