StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118054546619592.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of Lamont Jones’, ”);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118054540520775.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of Lamont Jones’, ”);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-118054543919686.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of Lamont Jones’, ‘Area coordinator for Rockfords NFL youth flag football league, Lamont Jones, wants to give children every opportunity to learn the sport of football.‘);
Anyone who has the Monday Night Football theme song as his cell phone ring must have a true passion for the game.
Wonder what Lamont Jones passion is? Call his cell phone.
Lamont Jones, 36, not only incorporates football into his own life, but as area coordinator for Rockfords NFL youth flag football league, he also allows hundreds of others to experience the thrill of being part of a team.
Jones, who works as a Rockford Memorial Hospital security guard, contacted the NFL around four years ago about establishing a league in Rockford, which begins its fourth season Saturday, June 2, when 252 boys and girls ages 5-14 will play their first games at Brown Park.
I saw that our kids have made it all the way through little league, flag football, junior tackle football, and theyve never been taught the basic fundamentals, Jones said. I caught the NFL at a lucky time, and they went ahead and gave me a shot with running the league here in Rockford, and right now we have the largest market in Illinois.
Jones, who played for the Kane County Eagles of the semi-pro North American Football League, said he wants to give children every opportunity to learn the sport, including those who may not be able to afford it.
To address this issue, Jones has teamed with the Rockford Park District and Rock River Raptors to establish a mentor program that targets kids who normally wouldnt sign up for the league because theyre unable to afford the $55 registration fee. The program not only covers registration, but Raptors players will mentor and coach the kids involved. Jones said the Raptors bus would also pick up kids and parents in the program who have no transportation to the games.
Jones said he tries to accommodate the children as much as possible by putting those who live close to one another on the same teams. The program allows members to assemble their own teams so they can learn to play together competitively, as well.
This is a way for our junior tackle teams to keep the kids together, playing football, Jones said. Instead of the kids sitting around at home playing Nintendo, theyll have been playing football all summer.
Since the league has so many teams, Jones said he is still looking for coaches and is always looking to add more sponsors.
You dont have to be Vince Lombardi or coach Novak from NIU, Jones said. All you have to do is be a decent young man or a dad.
To keep the league running, the program holds fund-raisers and sells raffle tickets to win prizes that include Chicago Bears autographed memorabilia. Tickets are sold every Saturday of the season at Brown Park for either $1 or $5, depending on the prize. Prizes will be awarded at the leagues annual banquet.
Jones said he hopes to have Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris as a guest speaker at the banquet.
For more information regarding the NFL youth flag football league, visit www.eteamz.com/nflrockford.
from the May 30-June 5, 2007, issue