Former players volunteer time as coachesOct 12, 2020 01:27PM ● By Greg James
Former Jaguar standouts Wyatt Clark, Pierce Dalton, and Cody Canard gather their little league football team at the end of practice and give out lifelong advice. (Photo courtesy of Greg James/City Journals.)
By Greg James | [email protected]
Five recent high school graduates have begun their coaching careers with a West Jordan Ute Conference football team.
The gridiron West Jordan blue team gathered around its coaches at the end of a recent practice. The young men stared up in awe at the five young men they called coach.
“Remember to eat a good breakfast and go to bed before midnight, hopefully, 10 o’clock,” head coach Pierce Dalton said to the players that day at practice. He is not a parent or sibling to one of the players; he volunteered to coach, but he is teaching them life lessons along with the game of football.
“I have known I wanted to coach football since I was these kids’ age,” Dalton said. “I love football and love being around the game. I wanted to coach a team.”
Dalton graduated from West Jordan High School in 2019. He, along with four other friends, Cody Canard, Wyatt Clark, Tavake Ngalo and Kameron Blackard, volunteered to coach when their life plans took a detour this summer.
“I feel lucky to have these guys be part of the program,” West Jordan Conference President Travis Johnson said. “I hope that they enjoy it and want to keep coming back every year. They are amazing young men. They recognize the importance of giving back to the community.”
The season has not been without its pitfalls.
“The first practice was kind of chaotic,” Jayson Demke, the father of second-year player Tyson Demke, said. “They stepped up and took control after that. They also connect well with these kids.”
The team has lost three games on the season (at press deadline).
“The team itself on paper has not had success,” Johnson said. “There is no question in my mind that these kids will want to keep playing football. Parents were a little apprehensive, but they have fallen in love with these boys. It is creating some great team culture and respect—everything you would want in a little league football coach.”
All five played in the little league program at West Jordan and later played for the Jaguars and then-head coach Mike Meifu. Ngalo has an opportunity to continue playing in California after the pandemic subsides, and Canard is part of the track team at Weber State. But Dalton admits none of them were five-star recruits.
“I was not the strongest or fastest,” Dalton said. “I found a way to get in on Friday nights because I was smart. I want them (his players) to understand what cover two is not just what they do on a play but why and what it means. A lot of kids on our team had never played before. Some coaches don’t teach why of the game.”
To become a coach each applicant must pass a background check and take a volunteer coach clinic that reviews first aid, fundamentals and philosophy of coaching youth.
“I tell these kids all of the time that there are things that will make you a better football player that doesn’t take skill,” Dalton said. “We all played West Jordan football since we were little. We love West Jordan. I don’t care if another team would win a state championship. I would pick West Jordan every time. This is more than just winning games. Respect and accountability are somethings you can learn that will help in life.”
“I think that these kids have so much potential,” Clark said. “If they show up prepared, nothing can stop us.”
“Teaching these kids is fun,” Ngalo said. “They go to our middle schools and elementary. It is fun to help them understand life lessons.”
West Jordan Ute Conference football currently has 150 players on eight teams. Players can begin playing at 7 years old.
“It was certainly a wild first practice, but we are learning just like they are learning,” Dalton said.
The former Jaguar players are teaching future Jaguar players what they think West Jordan football stands for.
“We have loved this opportunity,” Dalton said.