Laramie High School football is something rarely celebrated around the southeast corner of the great state of Wyoming. With a team that hasn’t had a winning record since 2000, not much has been worth celebrating the last 15 years. This, however, can all be changing very soon.
What makes great high school programs? Is it the coaching, the amount of money the school puts into the program or the amount of time and work the team sacrifices?
The answer lies within all of these realms, but great programs do not start developing players in 9th grade. Channeling youth sports into high school programs is the first step to building long-lasting success, and that is what Laramie Youth Football hopes to accomplish.
Travis Brown, a coach in the Laramie Youth league for the past 3 years, has had much success in developing players from the age of 10 to the time they enter junior high.
“I love that the league is competitive, but also fosters development,” Brown said. “Everyone should be getting better, not only my players, but the other teams in the league. They will all be playing together at the next levels.”
The Plainsmen football win-loss total over the past 15 years is a mere 19-74. This duration of time included many coaching changes and a lack of student population willing to join the team.
“It’s all about continuity,” Brown explained. “When a team has stability over a long period of time, it usually leads to success. Look at teams like the Spurs, Patriots, etc., they find a system and master it instead of constantly changing.”
Brown hopes the Laramie Youth League can begin implementing some concepts they will use at Laramie High School.
Success on the Horizon
Last year, the Laramie Youth Football All-Star team competed in the Snow Range Showdown Football tournament, held at War Memorial Stadium on the University of Wyoming campus. The team went 2-0 with wins over Green River (28-16) and Gillette (26-8), success the city has not been used to in quite some time.
“Coaching has made a huge difference in Laramie Youth Football,” Julie Darling, a parent of an All-Star player, said. “They push the kids to have discipline and to do things the right way, almost like they were high school athletes. The kids still have a ton of fun, but it has really changed the culture of youth football here in Laramie.”
Julie also reflected on the Laramie Plainsmen program. “It’s hard to watch the team struggle and player turn-out decrease over the years. I don’t know if it’s because of the white-collar atmosphere Laramie provides, but I believe this upcoming group of athletes can transition the school to a winning program.”
Inside Laramie Youth Football
Nobody has a better look at the league than the players within it. Jaedyn Brown, son of Travis Brown, gave great insight on what his experiences playing in the Laramie Youth league has been like.
“The coaches are all really experienced and I think that’s made us better,” the 12-year-old quarterback explained. “Also, it’s fun to be the older kid now and teach the younger kids what the coaches expect”.
Jaedyn went on to explain some of the reasons he plays the sport.
“I live for the big plays,” he said. “To practice and work really hard all week, and then to make the plays in the game is an awesome feeling.”
Making Laramie High School Football Great Again
It is no question that players play for the love of the game. Why would a child dedicate so much time to something he isn’t passionate about? This continues into the high school levels, but of course, it comes with a much bigger stage.
According to Wyoming-Football.com, the Laramie Plainsmen dominated Wyoming High School football through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, winning a total of 14 state championships during those three decades, under their infamous head coach John Deti, whom their football stadium is named after.
Travis Brown, who recently was hired as the new Laramie High School boy’s varsity basketball coach, had comments on what he sees in the future for the 4A football program.
“Now that the coaching staff has been there a few years, it’s going to make a positive difference. Like I said, continuity is important. They seem to have implemented more off-season regimens (weightlifting, conditioning, etc.) which makes a team better at the start of official practices,” Brown said.
Rebuilding a Relationship
With youth football on the rise in Laramie, it only makes sense that the high school team will follow suit, right? Wrong. The transition from the two leagues has to have all parties on board, including youth coaches, high school coaches, parents, and athletes.
Coach Brown made his opinion very clear when dealing with the matter.
“Development starts at the youth level, but the leadership starts from the top and works down. There has to be a better communication between our league’s coaches and the high school coaches. Players using the same systems at the youth level that they will use at the high school level will have much more success when they get there, rather than learning from scratch in 9th grade,” Brown explained.
The Laramie Youth League hopes that these bridges can be crossed in order to make Laramie a Wyoming football powerhouse once more.
(Left) A Laramie youth football player attempts to break a tackle to reach the end-zone during a 2015 football game. Photo courtesy bommphotos.com
(Right) A Laramie Plainsmen football player is tripped up by a Sheridan Bronc during a game in 2015. Photo courtesy of WyoSports.net
Laramie Youth Athletics Gaining Notoriety As a Whole
It is safe to say that Travis Brown has solved the equation for youth athletics success, considering he has won a Little League state championship as the head coach of the Laramie Little League All-Stars, coached the Laramie AAU 12-under basketball team to a 97-31 record over a 2 year span while playing in Colorado and Utah and also winning the Laramie Youth Football championship as well as the Snowy Range Showdown.
He hopes to continue this success with the Plainsmen boys basketball team this upcoming fall and also hopes to see his youth success transition to the high school level as well.
For more information on the Laramie Youth Football League, visit LaramieYouthFootball.org.
For more information on Laramie Plainsmen football, click this link: www.acsd1.org