• 48°

Hannon has right idea for IYF

B.J. Hannon has probably seen more grade school football games than anyone on the planet.

The octogenarian has spent the majority of his life coaching youth football in Ironton. Unable to move around as well as before, Hannon has shifted his youth football concentration from the sidelines to the administrative side.

Hannon has been the president of the Ironton Youth Football Association and Teen Murnahan Grade School Football League for the past four years. And with all those years of experience comes a library of wisdom.

Hannon understands the competitive drive inside each person, but he also knows that adults must act like adults and understand the purpose of the league and responsibility that comes with coaching the youth.

“I have a meeting and I tell them that first, we have to teach them fundamentals. Second, we have to make this fun,” said Hannon.

“If you’re screaming at them all the time, you should probably step back and ask yourself if what you’re doing is the right thing. We want these kids to continue to play.”

Hannon knows that the intensity level will change once they reach high school. By then, the players will be bigger, stronger and more mature.

“We have to understand that kids are going to make mistakes. They’re just learning and they make mistakes all the time. They’ll even make the same mistakes over and over, but even the pros make mistakes,” said Hannon.

The league has added flag football for youth in kindergarten and first grade.

Talk about kids not knowing what to do when they are 5- or 6-years old.

Hannon is right when he says the competitive drive is always there to win. Vince Lombardi once said, “If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?”

Lombardi was right, but only at the higher levels. People remember how the Ironton Fighting Tigers do each year, but most fans have no idea who won the grade school title last year except those who played on the teams involved.

Hannon said the more positive approach among all the coaches has made for a better league.

“I told all our coaches that I was pleased with the way the league was going. It has become what it should be,” said Hannon.

“The coaches all work together. The league is about the kids. We don’t have a lot of problems and anytime we do, we always seem to work it out.”

Now that’s a lot of wisdom talking.

— Sinatra —

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.