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Moses Lake Grid Kids enters 25th year

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | April 19, 2024 2:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — Heading into its 25th year, Moses Lake Grid Kids continues to provide opportunities to youth athletes on the gridiron. 

Grid Kids offers both flag and tackle football teams to youth football players in Moses Lake and beyond.

“The idea of what we want to do is offer youth football; offer competition in our local area,” Grid Kids Administrator Brian Gwinn said. “We’re one of the only sports left where we don’t have to travel somewhere to do something with, and we like to keep it grouped and working here in our area so that saves on the pocketbook of the parents and the fans.”

While there are some players from surrounding cities, Grid Kids is mainly composed of youth athletes from Moses Lake. Their teams are divided into three groups; first and second graders are combined to play flag football; third and fourth graders are combined to play “rookie tackle,” an introduction to tackle football; and fifth and sixth graders group up to play traditional tackle football. Grid Kids teams play against one another in Moses Lake, rather than travel to other cities.

“We’ve always offered it that way to make sure that we’re developing the kids,” Gwinn said. “When flag (football) was added, it was to give them the idea of what football was. When the third and fourth-grade tackle, it’s just kind of an introduction to it. Then the fifth and sixth-grade tackle, it’s a little more like, ‘Hey, we’ve been around and done it for a couple more years.’”

Gwinn said the flag football teams typically roster around 11 players per team, as the flag games are played either eight-on-eight or seven-on-seven — depending on how many players have signed up. There are usually eight flag football teams.

The rookie tackle teams field 14-15 players per squad and play on a smaller field. There are no kickoffs or punts for the third/fourth-grade teams.

The fifth/sixth-grade teams play on a standard-size football field, and their games include punting. There are typically 13-17 players for the standard tackle teams.

Grid Kids fields six teams for both the third/fourth-grade and fifth/sixth-grade groups, Gwinn said. 

“We try to limit it so it’s not too small and not too big,” Gwinn said. 

Grid Kids season begins on Labor Day weekend and runs through the first weekend of October. Games are played Saturday mornings on the fields at Moses Lake High School beginning at 9 a.m.

Last year, each of the fifth/sixth-grade coaches selected two to three players to compete on an all-star team, that was able to play additional games against teams from Spokane. Gwinn said he anticipates the all-star team returning this fall.

“Last year it was an experiment, and it went really well — and one of the things that made it go well was the coaches,” Gwinn said. “We had eight or nine coaches that participated in that, and they really worked with those kids for three weeks.”

Over the summer, Grid Kids hosts a camp that features instruction from players and coaches of the Moses Lake High School football team. The three-day camp is free for those registered with Grid Kids, and players receive a T-shirt for participating in the camp.

In addition to Grid Kids, the camp is open to middle school players for a fee.

“The high school coaches show up, and they go through their normal routines of what they would go through, and the kids just love it,” Gwinn said. “They’re looking up to the players, looking up to the other coaches. It’s not uncommon that we have 300-500 kids showing up to the camps.”

Grid Kids teamed up with USA Football about 10 years ago Gwinn said, and coaches that register to lead teams must go through a certification process with USA Football.

“We require every coach that’s involved to do it — not just the head coach, their assistant has to go through it,” Gwinn said. “It’s not just because we want them trained on concussions or heat exhaustion — that’s hugely important — but we also want to make sure that they get the general basics of what it means to be a coach.”

Registration costs for the tackle teams are $160, and include the helmet, pads and pants. For flag football, the registration fee is $50. 

Registration information can be found on moseslakefootball.com. 

“We think it’s a pretty good bargain for what you get,” Gwinn said. 

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com.

    For first- and second-grade players, Moses Lake Grid Kids offers flag football teams for players to get an introduction to football.