Lander Youth Football leaping forward this season

BY: Shawn O’Brate

LANDER – Last week’s article over the Riverton Junior Football League opened the eyes of many that kids under the age of 12 are already playing football competitively all around Fremont County. 

Kids from Thermopolis, Worland, the rez, and more all travel to Riverton to play against the large league of little footballers but what about Lander?

Well, Lander’s Junior Football League is just as embedded in the community as they come. The league has almost 100 little leaguers that all put the pads on and try one play at a time, and they’re all ready for the next level when the season comes to a close. 

Currently, it is mid-season for the Lander Junior Football League and co-president Eric Baker has been pleased with the number of kids that have come out this year compared to the past few.

“This is the biggest number of kids in my six years of doing this,” Baker said, “It’s nice because last year some of these kids only won one game, now they’ve won all four.”

The Lander 5th and 6th grade “Green” team won the Lander jamboree this past weekend, they’re pictured here with the Thermopolis team that traveled to play them (p/c Eric & Nikki Baker)

Baker referred to their recent football jamboree where they hosted teams from all across Fremont County and beyond with 3rd and 4th grade teams. For Baker though, it’s not all about the wins, it’s about the fun and the growth.

“It’s fun, you know?” Baker said, “With kids you never know what you have, watching them grow and seeing kids that have never played before turn into good players, it’s just fun.”

As a coach and co-president of the Lander Junior Football league for six years Baker has seen some of his little leaguers grow up to play for Lander middle school and even Lander high school as of late. 

“Some kids have taken advantage of it for sure,” Baker said, “next year’s eighth graders have got a pretty good group coming in, they could be really good.”

The Lander Green team (left) and Worland Black team (right) battled it out at the Jamboree in Lander this past weekend for the championship (p/c Eric & Nikki Baker)

The co-ed football league has over 60 3rd and 4th graders that participate in the weekly games, with the 30+ 5th and 6th graders traveling to Riverton to play in that league that carries more of their age group. Either way, the football in Lander is homegrown and ready to get to business. 

Baker made a special point to thank parents and volunteers because “without them the program wouldn’t keep going”. So if you’d like to help out, volunteer, or just go cheer on local kids you might know be sure to head to the City Park baseball field on Mondays and Thursdays from 5:45–8 PM and check out ways to help donate by following the “Lander Youth Football” Facebook page.