By Michael YEGHIAYAN
The La Cañada Gladiators junior football league is set to begin summer team practices, with the league’s tackle teams beginning practice on July 25 and flag football and cheerleading to start soon after.
The Gladiator program consists of six divisions of football teams that are organized by weight and age guidelines plus a cheerleading team. The Gladiators are open for boys and girls, with the Junior Gremlin league for players aged 6 to 8 up to the Midget division for 12 to 14 year olds.
Kevin Lacey, president of the La Cañada Gladiators, believes that the league instills principles of self-discipline and teamwork that carry positive benefits for participating players.
“Part of the reason that this program split off from Pop Warner Football was to place a greater emphasis on academics and sportsmanship,” said Lacey.
The program also offers players a chance to work toward eventually competing on the high school level by exposing them to the style of play of the local high schools.
“We have a coaching clinic, usually every year at St. Francis. St. Francis and La Cañada participate and we try and instill some of the local principles of the local programs,” explained Lacey.
The Gladiator program is designed to develop young athletes and often serves as the first exposure to organized football for participating players. Gladiator alumni often continue playing football with a number of local high school programs, including Crescenta Valley, La Cañada, Saint Francis, Loyola, Flintridge Prep and Pasadena Poly high schools.
The organization, founded in 1968, also places strong emphasis on the importance of maintaining academic integrity alongside athletics. The Gladiators’ website explains their dedication to operating a league that is dedicated to more than football. It states, “Stressing both athletics and education helps develop a well-rounded individual. The ultimate goal of the Gladiator program is to instill in the participants keen athletic citizenship and scholastic skills that will remain with these fine young men and women long after they have left the Gladiator program.”
The first games of the 2011 season are set to begin on Sept. 17 with playoffs scheduled to take place in November.
Gladiator home games will be played at La Cañada High School’s Spartan Stadium. More information can be found at the group’s website, www.lcgladiators.org. Although space is limited, registration for tackle football remains open.