About Optimist Youth Football
The Optimist Youth Football program was born in Boise’s Northend in 1949.
Playing out of Washington Park, 44 boys coached by Boise High School players and staff divided up to play each other. Since that time the Optimist Youth Football program has steadfastly adhered to a rather unique philosophy: there is no goal of sending a team to any regional or national championship; no traveling teams and paid coaching staffs; no All-Star teams; players do not try out and are not categorized as “major” or “minor”.
Instead, Optimist teams are formed by neighborhoods according to the player’s age, weight, and where they live. Teams are composed of players of different skill levels and abilities. They learn how to combine all these different abilities to form a team. Because all players are required to play a certain number of plays, it is in the team’s best interest for everyone to work together to improve their skills. Once a player is on a tackle team, they will stay with that team for the entire four years they are in the tackle program. They not only grow up together, but they also form lifelong friendships. When a coach starts with a team, he also moves up with that same team for the full four years. Not only do the players and coaches have a long-term commitment to each other, but they also get the opportunity to set team and individual goals and then actually work on achieving them…together.
Another “unique” aspect to the Optimist Youth Football Program is its “needs based” financial aid program. We have a fund that numerous individuals have donated to over the years and that we annually contribute to and supplement it with the proceeds from the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl High School Challenge. With this fund, any youth who wants to play will get to play. We supply everything from registration and insurance, to all the equipment needed to play.
Today's Optimist Program
Today, the program includes flag football for boys and girls ages six to nine years old, full contact tackle for eight through thirteen years old, and since 2004, cheerleading for ages four through twelve. It serves the communities of Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Star, Kuna, Mountain Home, Emmett, Wood River, and Homedale. Since the program began it is estimated that over 50,000 children have played in the Optimist Youth Football program.
A lot of youth programs talk about teaching teamwork, sportsmanship, commitment and developing relationships. Optimist Youth Football actually does it. It is truly a “unique experience”.
The Optimist Football Program is run by the Football Committee, a group of volunteers who answer to the Board of Directors of Boise Youth Sports Complex Inc.
The Basics: Tackle
Ages: 8-12 years
Season: Early August through October
Games: Saturdays, 7 games, Optimist Youth Sports Complex; Hill Rd, Boise (may include some limited travel to Treasure Valley towns; may include additional championship game)
Practices: In your neighborhood, 4 times/week (5 times in first 3 weeks)
Teams: Boise and surrounding towns
Cost: $150/season; jersey and helmet provided; other equipment available as package from area sporting goods stores
The Basics: FLEX
Ages: 8-12, Boys & Girls
Games: FLEX football games will be played during the week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, during the month of September, with an end-of-season FLEX tournament the last Saturday in September.
Practices: In your neighborhood, once a week week (3 practices/week pre-season)
Teams: Boise and surrounding towns
Cost: $125/season; jersey and flags provided
The Basics: Safety First
• All coaches are certified in the USA Football Heads Up Coaching techniques
• Head Coaches are required to attend annual training by high school staff
• OYF Player Safety Coaches monitor and attend team practices
Siblings and friends: join Cheer! Cheer squad is a great opportunity for a sibling of a player, or a friend or neighbor, to be involved with Optimist. Each team can have a squad, and there is guidance and an early-season camp for participants. Cheer squad members practice at the same time and location as the football team, making it easy on families. Cheer squads add to the game-day spirit and perform at halftime. Open to ages 4-12 years.