How to Boil a Frog. I’ve heard that if you put a frog in boiling water it will hop out. However, if you put the frog in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, you will boil the frog. Although applicable at times, when we look in the mirror, I’d like to focus more on the year that was.
We get so busy from one season to the next, from one event to the next, and constantly trying to maintain while improving and planning the next big thing. We rarely take time to sit back and reflect on things. We take moments. We get spontaneous words of encouragement. We laugh and we cry. We spend hours talking, planning, and planning to talk. We do our best to be sure to take time to recharge, but it is difficult to make time to reflect and enjoy all that is UFA. Even with the time I don’t think there is any way we could truly measure the impact of UnFettered Athletics in our Council Bluffs community.
Our mission is to change the world by using youth sports to positively influence the lives of children and families in our community. We are blessed and humbled to do what we do with who we do it. You are UFA and you are changing the world. This is how we did it in 2019.
I have to look back at pictures, rosters, and notes to even know where we are in UFA history and how far we’ve come. A year ago we were preparing for our 2nd UFA Basketball season. It was awesome! We added a middle school division expanding from three divisions to four. We continued an in house tournament for our 4th-5th grade and added an all-star game for the 6th-8th grade. We also continued our cheer program and of course had the infamous breakfast burritos in the concessions. It is so much fun working with the middle schoolers because they have a little more focus, fire, competitiveness, and understanding. They understand who we are, what we do, and our purpose. They don’t have the same pressures at UFA that they may experience at school or in other programs. It is fun to see them compete, be good sports, help and encourage their teammates, and just be kids.
We also started our year with a unique Hustler Highlight in a long-time friend of UFA, Geoff Hubbard. Geoff was the Parks and Rec Superintendent that we had worked with for years. In January he left the City of Council Bluffs and left a void. The absence created some unique challenges for us heading into the baseball season. Baseball always seems to be extra fun. It is a little more difficult to coordinate than our own leagues. And we had more Hustlers in 2019 baseball than ever before. Not just the most for baseball, but the most ever. Fortunately we had some great assistant coaches step up big time and fill in when I was not present.
Our assistant coaches are amazing. While we had some move on in 2019 we added new ones and we love how they stepped in and stepped up. Many of our rookie coaches fit in like they’ve been around forever. They all help at their own level and all their help is a great blessing. We also began working to expand our junior coaches program and are looking forward to seeing more older and retired Hustlers getting involved on the coaching side of things.
On somewhat of a personal note, 2019 was the 25th and final season for the original Hustler, Bronx Fetter. It was such an incredible experience getting to coach Bronx and we sent him off with his own Hustler Highlight and kind words from many of his previous coaches and some that had coached against or with him. I cried every time I read them. And although his Hustler playing career ended, he wasted no time jumping into the coaching realm full time and headed up one of our flag football teams. According to his players’ parents, he did awesome. Just as he paved the way for many Hustlers on the field, I imagine they will follow his footsteps to the sideline.
Football is also a time of newness as it coordinates with the start of the school year, brings us back to our own league after a couple of weeks off, and is when we offer updated merch and start a new theme. It was especially fun this season to see many of our 5th graders from last year move up a division. We also added numerous players at all levels and we love seeing the new guys mesh and acclimate with the veterans and the Hustler way. We had some challenges with weather and scheduling, but we had great help from our referees and assistant coaches. We were even out of town for a week, but once again we have incredible people on our side who believe in what we do and step up to make things happen.
In addition to what took place on the field we continued our awesome Cheer program, we had another awesome trip to Werner Park to watch the Storm Chasers and the rain could not stop us from hosting the Greatest Fundraiser of All Time, the ‘UnAthletics’!!! Our Baseball Movie Nights lakeside were awesome and a great (learning) experience. We also added another great event in the UFA Basketball ‘May’lee. This was soooo much fun.
We’ve developed a great relationship with WIllie Willams and the Nebraska Christian College Sentinels. They were awesome participants at our ‘May’lee. It was awesome to see them in the pre-game events and playing with the Hustlers. And, although they played hard against our Hustler Coaches, they just couldn’t overcome the power of the Yellow and Red and all the Hustlemaniacs. They also came out and helped with our ‘UnAthletics’ event.
It has been an incredible year full of a ton of support. Thinking about it leaves me speechless and although I try to keep the blog from going too long, there is just so much that we have been blessed to do through UFA. Grateful, Humbled, and Blessed.
Mission. Vision. Heart.