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Parkrose Colts: Transition from boys to little men

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Parkrose Colts: Transition from boys to little men


Discussing uniform-ordering details at a Parkrose Colts fifth- and sixth-grade practice are Parkrose Youth Football General Manager Jim Caudle, left, and Jeremy Sirokman, Parkrose fifth- and sixth-grade assistant football coach. The Colts season opener is Sept. 9. For their schedule, visit:
Jim Caudle teaches young men in Parkrose how to hit hard — in a football way — and how to tackle and block. Teaching, practicing and playing football, Caudle and coaches Bob McCleary, Hank Frecke, Michael Burton and Jeremy Sirokman turn boys into little men — all during the course of one season. They teach these boys patience, discipline, and work them hard. But, the adults make certain the kids have fun. If they don’t, the players don’t turn out.

In 1987 Caudle and Parkrose über booster Joe Rossi began a fifth- and sixth-grade Pop Warner football team, The Parkrose Colts. In 1994, after stints coaching the seventh- and eighth-grade teams he also helped create and one season as the Parkrose High School Freshman football team head coach, Rossi retired from coaching, but not from his involvement with the team he began. Rossi vowed that no player on the team would, as he did as a young football player, ever have to wear ill-fitting and improper equipment.

To that end, nine years ago Rossi and brother Nick, football stars during their playing days at Parkrose, created the Rossi Farms Barn Bash, a party at Rossi Farms with beer and bands to fund the team and supply proper equipment and uniforms a football team needs to operate. Currently, all but $10 of the $75 team fee goes to the Police Athletic League (the organization that now runs youth football in Portland). Without the Rossi Farms Barn Bash, players and parents would be required to participate in summertime fundraising activities — selling candy, having bake sales and holding car washes — activities and time that would be awkward and difficult for players and parents during the busy summer months.

Because Caudle has been spending extra time recruiting, the Colts ended up with 60 players this year, 20 more than they normally get, causing an unexpected funding gap. Luckily, Mike and Carol Markovich, owners of Uncle Vinny’s Eatery & Pizza in Parkrose, like the Rossis, are fans of youth activities and generously made up the shortfall. Outfitting and equipping 60 football players isn’t cheap. The new players allowed Caudle and cadre to start a fourth- and fifth-grade team, complementing their fifth- and sixth-grade program. Caudle and his coaches also want to start a challengers program for kids who, normally you’d never see playing football — kids with mental and physical challenges.

Around 1991, after years as the fifth- and sixth-grade head coach, Caudle moved up to coach at Parkrose High School. After leaving the high school and moving to Troutdale for a few years, Caudle got back into the Parkrose youth program seven years ago and doesn’t see himself quitting anytime soon. Currently, for want of a better term, Caudle is the youth football program’s general manager. Caudle handles the volunteer coach and player recruitment and retention, completes the necessary paperwork, deals with PAL’ coordinates team physicals, arranges transportation, solicits additional funding, purchases and maintains the equipment and uniforms, and takes care of just about every other detail that needs taking care of. Caudle spends hundreds of volunteer hours every season. And he isn’t even full-time coaching — yet. “If I could do it all over again, I’d probably be a school teacher coaching football — and track.”

Because football is a complicated game, it takes a lot of teaching and a lot of time. “Just getting a uniform on a kid, getting the gear on and getting it right takes a lot of time.”

Caudle wants to return to coaching next season. He would have already but, as he said, “I love being around the kids, and I love football ... I’m not around them enough and that’s why I’m not coaching, because I don’t have enough time right now to do it. Hopefully, I can coach next year.” It seems all these volunteer coaches do it for the same reason — they love football and love teaching the game to young men.

The Parkrose Colts don’t play home games. All PAL football games are held at neutral sites. This way, the sometimes-intimidating home field advantage doesn’t come into play. PAL has determined playing on home fields is not really a necessary thing at this age.

Up from seven games in the 2005 season, the Colts play an eight-game regular season schedule in 2006. This doesn’t include playoff games. Some football seasons, these little men play a longer season than their high school counterparts. Annually the Colts do gridiron battles with teams from areas in Portland that feed into the Portland Interscholastic League, teams from Jefferson, Marshall, Grant and Franklin. The Colts also play traditional rivals from the Mt. Hood Conference, Sandy and Gresham for instance.

Caudle is a 1974 David Douglas graduate, Parkrose resident, father of two sophomore sons at Parkrose High School and owner of a swimming pool company.

Caudle never won a city championship those years of head coaching but did get to the finals one year and, like all self-effacing and modest coaches, blames the reason for not winning it all on himself.

Parkrose youth football fields competitive teams every year. “We have the talent. We can play with anybody in the city, doesn’t matter who it is,” Caudle claimed.

Caudle and his cadre of volunteer coaches continue to teach the game they love to boys in Parkrose. Guiding them to victories and tempering the inevitable defeats, all on their path to becoming little men. And who knows, this could be the year the Colts win the city championship. Follow the Parkrose Colts’ season by visiting their Web site at:

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