You may already be seeing the little guys wearing helmets and pads at various open spaces around the county so, to confirm, youth football is back in Vigo County.

Even the phrase "feeder system" is occasionally heard.

A merger between Vigo County Youth Football and the Terre Haute Boys & Girls Club football league has resulted in the Terre Haute Youth Football League. Jamborees are scheduled Aug. 17 (kindergarten and grades 1-2), Aug. 18 (grades 3-4) and Aug. 19 (grades 5-6).

Players in seventh and eighth grades will be divided by schools. Those teams will practice at their respective high schools, with coaches Chris Barrett of Terre Haute North, Tim Herrin of Terre Haute South and Jeff Cobb of West Vigo having chosen the coaches.

Games for the younger players will be played at Boys & Girls Club Field — the former Valle Field — on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Makeup games, if necessary, will be played on Saturday mornings.

Signups concluded — officially — on July 31, but there may still be some flexibility for prospective players who had been involved in summer activities like travel baseball. "We're not going to tell anybody no," said Trent Miles, director of the Boys & Girls Club, a few days ago.

Meetings that included Miles, the three high school coaches, Boys & Girls Club athletic director Adam Carter and Gus Scank of the Vigo County Youth Football League helped bring about the merger that has so far resulted in a league with more than 400 players.

Eventually, Miles hopes, that number will more than double. "We need to be a feeder system for the high schools," he said, and pointed out that Vigo County School Corporation superintendent Rob Haworth has also been consulted.

Health concerns, as expected, have also been addressed. Brittney Storms from the Indiana State University physical therapy department is "our medical expert" on the football committee, Miles said, and Dr. Darren Brucken, Vigo County Health Commissioner, is also involved in the process.

"We're following the Vigo County Health Department, the [Indiana High School Athletic Association] and USA Football rules," Miles stressed. Coaches will wear masks and practices will be conducted with players in groups of 10 or less.

Spectators will have restrictions too, including having their temperature taken at the gate and wearing masks.

"I hope we can get the season in," Miles said. "If not, we'll move to spring. We're not going to put anybody in harm's way."

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