Developing the young is goal of youth football league

By Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi
Navajo Times

SHIPROCK, Aug. 28, 2014

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(Times photo – Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi)

A Kirtland Broncos quarterback in the Four Corners Young American Football League runs past defenders during the fall football jamboree held Aug. 23 at Shiprock High School. The Broncos defeated the Bloomfield Cats, 32-12.

Dozens of Navajo athletes trying their hand at one of the country’s most popular sports.

The Four Corners Young American Football League kicked off the season two weeks ago and held games this past weekend at the first Four Corners YAFL Fall Football Jamboree held at Shiprock High School.

Jake Cockrell, who has coached YAFL since 2006 and is a 1997 Kirtland Central graduate, coaches the fourth-grade Kirtland Broncos team that is 80 percent Native American.

Cockrell, who grew up around the Native American community, said he’s happy to see the Native athletes show an interest in the sport.

“I absolutely enjoy it,” he said. “It’s good for them to have another father figure, have somebody they can talk to, that’s why I coach – to help them out especially with the Native American kids. I know they need that."

On Saturday, Cockrell coached his team to a 32-12 victory over the Bloomfield Cats to give them a 1-1 record so far this season.

He said while the win was satisfying, he always hopes his players pick up more than a few football skills.

“The biggest thing for these kids is not so much playing football as it is to learn life lessons,” he said. “It keeps them out of trouble when three o’clock comes, school’s out, they don’t go home do things they shouldn’t. They come out and they do something productive.”

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