Upward starts back up with the help of UF football players

UF football players offer their help to strengthen the football community around Findlay with Upward

By Magdelyn English, EnglishM1@Findlay.edu

If you walk by the new Champion’s Field on UF’s campus on Thursday evenings, the football players may look very young; that’s because it’s not UF’s football team on the field.

Upward Flag football league, the College First Church of God’s football program for young kids ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade, had its official start of the season. On Sept. 2, the program had its first game day of this season. Their practices started in August and the games take place on an eight-week period that started at the beginning of this September.

Upward Findlay Flag Football started three years ago to bring younger families closer to the church. Director of Upward Findlay Flag Football Faith Gingerich has watched the program grow and bring smiles to the kids’ faces for the last three years.

“We had around 100 players the first year and now we’re at 250,” Faith Gingerich said. “Every year it’s gotten bigger.”

This program does not just look for kids that are interested in football and are fit enough to do so. They encourage all kindergarteners through sixth graders to participate. Coaching and referee coordinate Travis Gingerich emphasized every kid should have the opportunity to play or be part of the program.

“That’s the other thing we want, so there’s kids that have disabilities, physical or intellectual playing. They may not be competitive. We want the little kids that have no attention span, and are running around,” Travis Gingerich said. “In the regular league, they may sit on the sidelines, but this is somewhere they can play. We want them because then you can play. You’re going to get the ball. You’re going to get a chance.”

Travis Gingerich hopes UF continues to work with this program since it allows for referees for their Saturday games. He reached out to Coach Kory Allen about football players refereeing the games. Allen made a sign-up sheet and sent a list of six names to Travis and Faith Gingerich.

When Allen brought up the opportunity to help with Upward, UF football player and first year physical therapy student Xavier Temple took the offer.

“I like the community interaction and opportunities that football provides for us. It’s always nice to give back to the community that’s supporting you,” Temple said.

At 9 a.m. on Saturdays, the games between teams take place at Dick Strahm Champions Field. UF Football players will help referee these games when they are staying on campus instead of traveling with the team. Temple feels nostalgic while interacting with the kids.

“It’s just fun because you get to see them play the sport they love. You see where your love for the game grew,” said Temple.

Faith and Travis Gingerich are grateful for the players coming out and helping show the kids just how much fun the sport is.

“Guiding the kids, positioning them and giving them tips have been really cool. Being able to watch the college players interact with the kids,” Travis Gingerich said.

If you want to get involved with Upward Findlay Flag Football, email Faith Gingerich at upward@collegefirst.org. They are always looking for referees and coaches for the football teams and cheerleaders.