Steamboat Flag Football was represented once again at the Denver Regional NFL Flag Football Tournament at the end of June. After winning the tournament in 2022, the 10-and-under athletes graduated to 12U this season and tried their hand at repeating as tournament winners.
Steamboat took two 12U teams to Denver with six athletes on each team. The team’s coach, Jeff Sublett, said every team was guaranteed three games at regionals with the top six advancing to the playoff bracket. This year Steamboat missed the playoffs by just one game.
According to Sublett, the athletes were disappointed but had the experience of a lifetime just a few months earlier.
After winning the 2022 regional, Steamboat earned a trip to Las Vegas in February to compete and celebrate at the NFL Pro Bowl. They were among the top-15 teams in the nation.
“Getting beaten in this regionals was tough because they just went to the Pro Bowl, but it is a good pill to swallow,” Sublett said. “I think it builds character and helps them move forward in life knowing everything is not handed to them. You have to work hard for it and sometimes you are not going to be able to win.”
Winter storms this year held the team back from consistent practice this spring. Sublett said they were only able to get to work six times leading up to the regional.
Last year, the team started practicing as early as April. That made all the difference.
“This year, we were not outside in April,” Sublett said. “We had six or seven practices and luckily we partnered with the youth soccer organization and they lended us their turf field inside. I think the boys did awesome.”
In pursuit of strengthening the Steamboat football program for next year, Sublett and Steamboat Flag Football will host a summer camp July 31-Aug. 4 to help transition the older flag athletes into tackle football.
The weeklong camp will include a pizza party, popsicles, talks and demonstrations from local high school football players and their coach Jay Hamric. The camp is available for athletes age 5-12 and runs from 10 a.m.-noon.
Flag football season will then pick up on Mondays and Wednesdays for eight weeks starting Aug. 28 and running through mid-October.
Steamboat’s youth sports have changed all their websites to connect through SportsConnect.com. Sublett said the goal is to have every youth sport run through one account to make it easier on parents and young athletes to join.
“We just want to continue to filter everything through Steamboat Sailor football,” he said. “We’ve had some really great momentum over the last three years. We went to the Pro Bowl, went to the regional tournament again, and I think it will really take off this year.”