Youth NFL Flag League Hosts Appreciation Event for Chargers


Written by Jody Taylor

Since taking their projected final bow at Qualcomm Stadium back on Dec. 20, the battle of the gridiron has been replaced by “Save Our Bolts” rallies, Town Hall meetings, business vendors and season tickets holders giving interviews on how losing the Chargers would affect them.

And while the NFL owners meeting was the Hail Mary that sent that battle into overtime, the one group no one thought to talk to about how they would be affected if the team bolted was our youth in San Diego.

On Saturday, the kids got a chance to thank the Chargers for their commitment to staying in San Diego with a Chargers Appreciation Day.

The event was hosted by My NFL Flag, which is an official San Diego division of the nationwide NFL Flag League powered by USA Football and the NFL. The league currently has three separate co-ed divisions (7-8, 9-10 and 11-12) that have over 150 San Diego County youth participating each season. The league is operated by Mike and Iola Yanez of Santee.

On Saturday, the entire league switched out their game jerseys for official “Chargers Appreciation Day” shirts to show league-wide support for the Chargers. Actual Chargers players participated as assistant coaches and hung out with the players.

Chris Watt.

ILB Nick Dzubnar, OLB Brock Hekking and OC Chris Watt were on-hand signing autographs, taking photos, coaching and getting the kids amped for their games.

As Hekking put it, “This is what it’s all about.”

I agree, because these kids are just as much about our future of football in San Diego as the Chargers themselves.

Dzubnar stated: “This is so great that these kids genuinely appreciate us being here and staying in their home city. It’s so important for us to share with the community we are here for them.”

As a coach in this league myself, I have to say that what I witnessed today was the affect of having the Chargers stay in San Diego through the eyes of 11-year-olds. What I saw was that having the team in our city does matter.

The Chargers are role models for our young players and represent a sense of pride and connection as kids believe the players are a part of them because they represent the city where they live. Kids being able to see the players live at the games and in community events like this makes goals like becoming a pro football player seem obtainable.

Nothing compares to the connection these kids get from having the Chargers “home.”

One of my players, Josh Gerritsen, said Saturday: “See, Coach, if they moved we couldn’t do this with them. I couldn’t have said thanks. Watt wouldn’t have signed my shirt and watched me play football.”

What the league did today was so much more than just giving the players, coaches and fans the opportunity to say thanks to the Chargers; they opened eyes to how San Diego residents should be voting for the citizens initiative to keep the Chargers and these opportunities for our kids, right here in America’s Finest City.

If you would like more information on how to register your son or daughter to play in an official NFL Flag Football league right here in San Diego County, visit the My NFL Flag website at

Jody Taylor is a retired women’s pro football player and former media relations director for the Women’s Professional Football League. She has been published in Sports Illustrated, CNN, Time and several sports media outlets covering the WPFL, Arena Football League and NFL. She is the founder of Sixty5 Media in San Diego and coaches for the NFL’s Flag/Play 60 program in San Diego. Follow her @RealJodyTaylor.

About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has covered the San Diego Chargers since 2003. He spent 12 years covering the team for and has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports, Football Insiders and MySpace Sports.

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