Will Dodson didn’t want to coach football.
Yet, like many parents with sons entering scholastic sports, Dodson has found himself on the sideline—and leading one of the Lil Macs' teams to a second championship game in two years.
Will Dodson, 37, along with five other coaches, will see one of the teams composed of 10 and 11 year-old athletes compete in the Greater 19 championship game.
Mike Clopp’s squad of 12-year-olds is also playing for Saturday’s title at North Allegheny.
“I didn’t want to be involved (five years ago). I was a fill in, but we had some
guys (who) didn’t have it going as smooth as it could, and some parents stepped
up," Dodson said. "You don’t want parents involved that just drop off their kids—you want those that are involved and care."
Led by coach Mike Clopp, 40, the team of 12-year-olds has had much participation from coaches, as well—with five parents involved. And he said he'll have the numbers to form two teams next year for that age group. But he won't be coaching then.
There were four teams for 10-and 11-year-olds this year. And the numbers are expected to keep growing.
“There are a lot of people relocating here for natural-gas work. This is the first year we’ve had four teams," Dodson said.
The aim of little league programs such as the Lil Macs is not only for kids to learn good sportsmanship and gain experience, but to ultimately prepare them for high school-level play.
“We’re running the high school offense, so when they go to the middle school program, they already know what’s coming,” Clopp said.
Dodson added: “There’s a lot of scrimmaging in practice. We have those rosters and depth to practice and find where kids should play."
The teams have been furthering their competitive edge with recent tournament play in Cleveland. For the past few years, the teams have drafted players into the best team for the Midwest Youth National Tournament, with the 9-and 11-year-old's teams taking home the 2010 championship titles.
“It’s a tryout. We can put in the best, most competitive kids on one team. That’s why we do it—to get them ready for high school ball,” Dodson said.
And like most parent coaches, once their sons graduate to the next level, Dodson and Clopp will gladly let the school board-hired coaches take the reigns. Clopp is excited to see his son continue playing hereafter.
“I’ll be watching my son from the stands. At this level, it’s a lot of dedication
though—we practice three days a week," he said. "We couldn’t do it without the parents’ commitment.”
The G19 Championship games will be played Saturday at North Allegheny Stadium located at 10375 Perry Highway, Wexford Pa 15090.
The teams composed of 10-year-olds will play at 5 p.m. The teams composed of 12-year-olds will play at 7 p.m.