MABTON – Making a difference in the lives of area youth to excel both on and off the field is what drives Noe Calixto to take on the guiding role as the Mabton Vikings Grid Kids’ head coach.

“It’s always rewarding and never about the wins or loses with us. It’s all about what we can teach these kids. Not necessarily about football, but life in general – life lessons,” Calixto confidently stated.

The Yakima Grid Kids Association’s season officially started on Monday, July 29. The organization and its’ volunteers aim to provide and promote the opportunity for players, ages 8-13, to participate in a structured youth football program.

“You hear about kids and their schoolwork and have parents who want you to talk with their kids. Being coach is just a role that is very rewarding, it’s one of the main reasons we do this,’ the four-year coach explained.

Mabton High School sophomore, Andres Zavala joined other Viking athletes to help coach the players take part in training drills. The football and basketball player, a former Grid Kid who played quarterback on the team that went to the playoffs for the first time in their history.

“It’s really fun seeing all the little kids out here because growing up, we played too. I enjoy helping them learn the techniques and skills, and passing it down,” Zavala acknowledged.

He recalled how much he learned from the program with the realization it’s now his turn to give back and make a difference.

“Our first football practice is August 21, and it’s going to be at midnight,” the varsity quarterback exclaimed after describing how he’s been working on improving his football skills and being prepared for the season to begin.

“The kids receive all the equipment and gear, except for cleats, which I have received as donations from players and continue to pay it forward,” Calixto conveyed.

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email PShelby@SunnysideSun.com

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