Panthers prepare to take the field

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Thu., Jul. 21, 2011
Contributed
South Windsor Panther #30 Josh Hatfield carries the ball against the East Hartford Hornets. The Panthers B Team defeated the Hornets 19 - 0 during in the 2010 season. Photo by Jan Hatfield. - Contributed Photo

“We’re really excited,” said Dave Hodge, president of South Windsor Panthers Football, Inc., about the upcoming season. The program was established in 2001, after the town split from the tri-town football program. Since then, the program has grown to involve more than 150 in the football program and nearly 90 girls for cheerleading. “We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of kids participating,” said Hodge.

Over the past three years, all of the football helmets have been updated, along with much of the protective equipment. Rockville Bank also funded a new scoreboard, and Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza helped with the funding for the new snack shack and storage building, all at Rye Street Park. The fields themselves have also been renovated, including a new practice field. The concession stand will be open with a fryolator and grill this season.

“We still have open registration and room on all our teams,” noted Hodge. The football teams are separated by age. The program is open to youth ages 7 to 14, but not entering high school. The Mighty Mites are the youngest group, ages 7 and 8. The C team is comprised mostly of 9- and 10-year-olds. The A and B teams are the older participants, and are more geared towards competitive football. There is one Mighty Mite team, one team each in A and B, and 3 C teams.

Registration runs until the first day of practice on Monday, Aug. 8. According to Hodge, the program is starting a week later this year in response to parents wanting more summer vacation time together as a family.

“During the school year, football is four days a week,” said Hodge. “Three days of practice and one game.” The games are held on Sundays.

“It’s a huge commitment,” said Kim Parlapiano, who runs the cheerleading program. The cheerleading squads follow the same practice and game schedule as the football players. “It’s a sport,” she said, adding, “It’s a lot of fun for them.” There is also an option to participate in two competitions in the fall.

“It doesn’t matter if they have experience,” added Parlapiano. “We teach them the fundamentals of cheering.” She also stressed that the girls are taught to be respectful of each other, both on and off the field. Panther cheerleading prepares the young athletes to try out for the cheerleading squads at Timothy Edwards Middle School and South Windsor High School.

A new feature this year is the First Annual Jamboree, which will be held on Saturday, Aug. 27. “It’s like a big scrimmage,” said Hodge, adding that seven area towns will participate.

South Windsor Panthers, Inc., is overseen by a 12-member board of directors, running both the football and the cheerleading programs. For more information, visit the website southwindsorpanthersfootball.com. To contact Dave Hodge about the football program, e-mail him at dddhodgie@aol.com. For more information about the cheerleading program, contact Kim Parlapiano at 860-729-4546.


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