Colchester Cougars Youth Football celebrates 40 years

By Merja H. Lehtinen - ReminderNews
Colchester - posted Tue., Oct. 8, 2013
Jenn Barber (far left) Erin Rowlins, Paula McDowell and Debbie Grottole organized and enjoyed the Colchester Cougars Youth Football anniversary party.  Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.
Jenn Barber (far left) Erin Rowlins, Paula McDowell and Debbie Grottole organized and enjoyed the Colchester Cougars Youth Football anniversary party. Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.

The Colchester Cougars Youth Football organization’s adult volunteers celebrated the group’s 40th anniversary on Oct. 4, at a party and dance held at the Polish Club.

“Tonight is about getting together celebrating our 40th year of having a good time with the children,” said Paula McDowell, the league’s chairwoman. The band T. Rubble donated its services to play for the adults who planned to dance the night away. With dancing, music, door prizes and plenty of good conversation, everyone was having a good time.

Most of the time, parents meet while offering local children the chance to play football and participate in cheerleading after school. This year, among the 6- to 13-year-olds, there are three girls who play football themselves, and many others who practice cheerleading. About 135 children are served during the year.

Parents and other adults who share a love of the sports volunteer their time fundraising, transporting children among the towns that participate in the league, and coaching. “Everyone drives themselves and the children to games; there are 11 towns and eight games a season per town; four are home and four are away,” McDowell said.

“Hopefully we make the playoffs, then there are more games,” said Erin Rowlins, who is the co-chair of special events with Debbie Grottole. The organizers said that the children simply love playing. The adults try to make it a family organization, so everyone has a role to play. Parents interact with more children than just their own, and often stay to cheer on the whole team. Adults volunteer and raise all the funds for the league. 

Jonathan and Beth Constant moved to Colchester from East Hartford about eight years ago and their son Alexander is in the league. Jonathan is also a coach, after having played football during high school and college. “It is a team sport that creates a camaraderie immediately among everyone. Since our son is the only boy at home and his sister is much older, football gives him connections with children his age. We have all become friends - parents and children,” said Jonathan.

Beth noted that her son has become “more confident and excited” about playing, especially when he learns a new play or position.

Rob Kelsey and head coach Dominic Lombardo also volunteer because of their love of the sport. Lombardo grew up in Colchester and played on the A squad. When his son was interested in football, Lombardo volunteered to be a coach. This year he is the head coach.

All in all, everyone benefits, the parents said. The children learn discipline and teamwork, and the parents have fun meeting each other and coaching sports they love.


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