Beyond Football

     As a club, we are proud of all of the little football players in our Nampa Optimist Football program. But, football is an expensive sport and because of this, many of our little Optimist players were from more affluent families. One of the goals of the Nampa Optimist Football "Beyond Football" program is to provide Scholarships for many of the kids who couldn’t afford the Optimist Football program.

     The resources of the Nampa Optimist Football program also includes community affiliations. We created "Beyond Football" to take a huge step to further the education process. We solve future community problems by encouraging disadvantaged kids to take the steps to become better, successful citizens. Not just football, but scholastic skills and citizenship skills as well.

     Entering the 2006 football season it became apparent that we needed to focus our energy and resources. Prior to this time, the Nampa Optimist Football program provided scholarships to those who asked and met our application criteria. Optimist Football provides an opportunity to ignite passion and excitement in young athletes and their families. We wanted to leverage this passion to encourage success in other areas of our student-athlete’s lives.

     The Nampa Optimists met with administrators of the Nampa School District to identify high risk schools. These schools have below average income, high rates of delinquency and high dropout rates. With the help of the district administration, we targeted three Nampa Elementary schools. These three schools also had a historically low level of participation with the Nampa Optimist Football program.

     The next step was to meet with the individual Nampa School administrators to help us identify children for our program, children who are socially and economically challenged, children with poor grades, attendance and disciplinary issues. Once these students were identified (3 to 5 students per school), mentors (Nampa Optimist coaches) began meeting with these students on a monthly basis with the intent of understanding their situations and attempting to generate an interest in Nampa Optimist Football.

     At the same time we organized school assemblies at the target schools. These assemblies brought Boise State University (BSU) football players and coaches into the schools to talk with the kids about the importance of school and education. These assemblies and the ‘one on one sessions’ afterward were tremendously successful.

     The next step was to bring these kids into our Nampa Optimist Football program. We set a goal of 10% scholarships to total participation. Through a targeted campaign including flyers, site visits by coaches and administrators along with tremendous support from teachers and school officials, we exceeded our goal in the first year by 2%. In 2010 we provided 135 scholarships out of 750 total Optimist Football players and Nampa Optimist Cheerleaders.

     "Beyond Football" strives to help kids enjoy Optimist Football in a safe and structured environment. Nampa Optimist Football teaches values kids will use for the rest of their lives. It is our responsibility to emphasize these values to all of our kids and it is our goal to help every player and cheerleader experience success on the field, in the classroom and in life.