SUNNYSIDE — “Everybody has to do their part.” That is the mantra for Max Saldana, Head Coach and President of the Sunnyside Grid Kids organization. Saldana explained in a recent interview, the role each of his players, coaches, and parents play to help the organization operate like a well-oiled machine.
The Sunnyside organization and team are part of the greater organization, the Yakima Valley Grid Kids. According to Saldana, players and coaches each give commitment to the program and the program in turn, does good for the community.
The program’s overall goals are to instill discipline, leadership, football fundamentals, playing better together, and keeping kids off the streets.
The Sunnyside program began in 1983 and Saldana is extremely proud of all who invest to make the program great.
His hope is that by starting the kids early playing a team sport, the play will positively impact the student individually and later, elevate high school play.
This year, home games will be in Granger.
“One of the best things we have in Sunnyside are the team moms,” said Saldana of their supporters. The moms organize for and help prepare the team to be ready when game time happens.
The moms shuttle paperwork, birth certificates, and physicals, for starters, Saldana commented, “They go through a lot.”
According to Saldana, injuries are a part of playing a sport. “We have our bumps and bruises.” He went on to explain kids can potentially get hurt worse if they play on a trampoline, skateboard, or bike compared to football play.
The league adheres to strict guidelines which include a certified coaching staff. The coaches have responsibilities to get prepared in the same way the grid iron players prepare.
Saldana feels there are innumerable benefits for kids who play. He said kids ought to join in order to keep them busy both physically and mentally.
He explained the sport will instill discipline first and foremost and will help the student learn responsibility This responsibility is shared, Coach Saldana said, between coaches, parents, and players.
Saldana says the Grid Kids’ program adheres to rules and discipline the kids must follow.
“I love seeing kids accomplish things,” he said, “There is nothing they cannot do. . . I’ve seen lives turn around.”
The Sunnyside Grid Kids’ football team will have their first game in two weeks and are practice strong.
For kids interested in play but needing scholarship or fundraising assistance, there is help available by calling 509-830-3494.