The Brentwood Blaze youth football and cheer program will celebrate its 30th anniversary Saturday.
The club was created in the fall of 1991 as an expansion team from the Williamson County Cowboys organization in Franklin. In the inaugural season, 42 boys and 12 girls participated in Blaze. Today, the program has 371 players and cheerleaders ages 5-12.
Over 30 years, there have been many improvements to helmets and safety precautions for players. This fall, players were given new helmets offering state-of-the-art protection backed by extensive research and data to keep young players safe. The way the helmet is designed allows it to absorb the impact of a tackle to the front of the head.
The Blaze utilizes the fields at Crockett Park, and Paul Edwards, club president, said he’s thankful for the city of Brentwood’s financial support and the parks department for keeping the fields in meticulous shape.
Tom Shelton coached for the Blaze beginning in 1997 when his oldest son, Thomas, played. He went on to coach for 14 years for his other three sons Ryan, Cody and Tyler.
“I’ve been a board member, a coach, an assistant coach and I had the opportunity to hopefully impact many boys and young men’s lives in a positive way,” Shelton said. “The Blaze has afforded us the opportunity to make so many special friends, and we have many great memories.”
Shelton was always impressed with how the community has stepped up and given their time.
The board is made up of 20 individuals, and coaches are required to have extensive training.
“We want young people to have a great experience. It should be fun, and the players learn something about football. Teaching the game and sportsmanship is important,” said Michael Kaplan, Blaze board member.
For Shelley Erickson, a mom who has had four children go through the program, it’s been about community.
“It’s fun, and as they got older, we would see former Blaze teammates after high school games and catch up. We have made many friends through football,” she said. “I love that the coaches say to our 12-year-old, ‘Go home and do your homework, don’t make mom mad.’ They emphasize this and for the boys to listen to their coaches.”
There will be no official program on Saturday, however, there will be inflatables and a dunk tank for players to dunk coaches. At the end-of-season banquet, an additional celebration will be held.
Families are encouraged to bring new or gently used shoes with them on Saturday to donate to Souls4Souls.
To learn more about Brentwood Blaze, visit www.brentwoodblaze.org.