In 92 degree heat in the middle of the evening, almost 300 kids and 70 coaches take to the fields at Grayslake's Central Park as a slew of parents look on. No pads. No jerseys. Not even football pants. Just sweat-drenched t-shirts and practice shorts, a few helmets and hundreds of water jugs. It's conditioning week for the Grayslake Colts.
With a season set to start in just weeks, the coaches are determined to get their players into shape with two hours of sprints, pushups, situps, jump squats and the like. The players, no doubt, will feel every sore and aching muscle by the end of the night.
"Most of them don't know which way to even go right now," said Chad Connelly, President of the Colts. "But, by the end of the week they'll be getting it, and they'll be in much better shape to start the season."
This year the Colts are giving even younger players a chance to play organized ball. For the first time they will have a FlyWeight division for kids just five years old.
"We had the interest and we went with it," said Connelly. "These kids are so small the helmets take up half their body!"
The fourteen teams will each play nine regular season games through October, then head into the playoffs.
The Colts organization is built completely of volunteers including the 70 football and 40 cheer coaches and the 18-member board of directors. 250 girls make up the cheerleading and poms squads. The Colts is part of the TCYFL tackle football league, a travel league which includes teams from as far north as Kenosha and as far south as Plainfield.
Football Dating Back to 1968
The Colts football league was started by Ken Grosvenor in 1968 with a handful of middle school boys. The teams borrowed equipment from the high school and played in leather helmets. They would 'pass the hat' at home games, which were played at Jay Cee Park, to help pay for the officials.
The first cheerleaders joined the Colts in 1978. They only cheered for one year before the current group was organized. Today, approximately 200 girls ranging in age from kindergarten through eighth grade participate in the cheer and poms program.
Stay tuned to Grayslake Patch for coverage on the Colts throughout the season.