He enjoyed sports as a youngster growing up in Southern California. He enjoyed watching his own four children compete in athletics. And now, Dr. Jack McLaughlin is looking to pass along that enjoyment to others through the new Scholars and Champions youth football program.
Scholars & Champions is being set up to provide organized football for all youngsters - both boys and girls, players and cheerleaders alike - 8 to 11 years of age in Carson City and the surrounding area. The season is scheduled to kick off on Monday, Sept. 12, and continue through early November.
"The response so far has been phenomenal," McLaughlin said. "Even before passing out flyers at the schools, we already have more than the 60 players we were expecting. We originally planned for four teams - that's 15 players for each team, and we play 8-man football - and we may have to expand. That will mean we need more teams and more coaches, but we would be willing to do that."
The goal is to accommodate anyone who wants to play competitive football, according to McLaughlin.
"There are no boundaries," he said. "We'll take anyone, no matter where they're from or how big they are."
The ultimate goal is to provide a family-oriented program that will help the players become well rounded students.
"The whole spirit of this is to bring the whole student together in a camp-like atmosphere," McLaughlin said. "We want to do more than look at their football skills on the field. We want to look at their language arts and math, and even their speaking skills. We want to make sure they are doing well in school.
"At the same time, school doesn't just consist of what goes on between the walls. Education is an ongoing 24-hour community project."
That's what inspired McLaughlin, 66, who formerly served as Nevada's Superintendent of Public Instruction, to set Scholars and Champions in motion.
For example, McLaughlin said players will set and work to achieve academic and athletic performance goals and they will be trained in public speaking, to build confidence and develop leadership skills.
Practices will be held two days a week, with games to be played on Saturday mornings at Carson Middle School. The limited practice time is designed to allow students time to concentrate on their academics as well as other activities.
"We're not here to compete withanyone," McLaughlin said. "We support all of the other programs or sports. At the same time, we can hopefully fill a gap for people who always wanted to do something like this but never had the opportunity."
Tutoring will be made available to students and progress at school will be checked. At the same time, students will not be denied the chance to play if their grades falter, according to McLaughlin.
"We want to know where they are and how they are doing at school, but it is not our intent to exclude anyone from this activity because it's all worthwhile," he said. "We want this to be a positive learning experience for everyone."
All players will be guaranteed an opportunity to start on offense or defense and will play a minimum of one half in every game. Teams will represent actual college programs, complete with uniforms. The season will extend into the first week of November and will finish up with every team playing in bowl games on the final day. And that's without any BCS!
McLaughlin, 66, participated in five different sports (football, basketball, baseball track and field, and tennis) when he was a high school student at Antelope Valley High School in Southern California. He went on to play at Antelope Valley Community College and then for a brief time at U.C. Santa Barbara.
"I was the oldest of nine children and my mother was a kindergarten teacher," he said. "Our family was always involved in some sort of activity, whether it was athletics, or dancing or marching band. It was just part of growing up."
McLaughlin described the concept of Scholars & Champions as innovative.
"I'm not sure anything like this has ever been tried, but we're willing to give it a shot," he said. "A lot of people in the community have already stepped up. The Carson City School District has been very supportive and so have sponsors from the community. And we have a good group of coaches. It's going to be a lot of fun."
The fee for participation in the program will be $100, which includes the cost of all gear. Call 884-9229 or go online to www.nevadasports.org for more information regarding the program.
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.