This week’s profile features Elliott Giles, the Youngstown State University wide receiver in 1998-99 who created Youngstown Youth Flag Football Association three years ago.
Q. How did your program get started? A. I’ve been running an adult league for about five years. About two-and-a-half years ago, I asked myself what I could do to get kids involved because grown men were so excited. I got in touch with the NFLwebsite and started reading about youth leagues. Every state has them. I called the NFL and said I wanted to get something started. The told me the requirements and I took it from there. They provide the jerseys, the flags, the footballs. Then I called schools and they told me to come pass out fliers.
Q. Your numbers have grown — was that expected? A. Flag football has really taken off. It’s gone better than I expected. I had 80 kids my first year and now my biggest year had more than 500 players. I knew that it would grow but I just didn’t think it would be this fast.
Q. Are all games played at Boardman High School?
A. Yes. We’re so grateful to the Boardman administrators for allowing us to use their facility. They’ve been a big help to us by giving us this land. We do our best to clean up, do field maintenance. We do everything we can so they don’t have a reason to say we can’t use the field any more.
Q. How do you put teams together?
A. Players have two options. They can request to be on a team with their friend. Or if a player doesn’t have any friends playing, we’d put him on a team of kids from his geographic area. It helps out with practice and travel.
Q. How did you end up in Youngstown?
A. I’m originally from Miami, Fla. Right out of high school, I went to Idaho State University where I played football there for two years. I transferred to Youngstown State in 1997 and redshirted the ‘97 season when we won the national championship. I played wide receiver, Jeff Ryan was the quarterback. In 1999, we went to the Championship [Game] in my senior year. We lost, but it was still a good experience, a great time, something that I’ll never forget.
Q. How did YSU impact your life?
A. I tell people all the time that it was those relationships that I built while at YSU that has enabled me to do a lot of what I do now. Every fall, we have a YSU day where take the kids from the league to a YSU game. I’ve been blessed by the friendships that I’ve built at YSU. I was definitely blessed to have the type of success we had under Jim Tressel. He is a great coach but an even better guy who made a big impact on my life.
Q. What was it like going from Florida to Idaho?
A. It was tough, it really was going from the tip south part of the country to the West Coast but I think it was the best decision I ever made. Moving away helped me grow up, make decisions. Of course, you don’t always make the best of decisions, but that’s what life is all about. I’ve been blessed. Life has been a roller coaster but now I’m at peace doing something I love — teaching.
Q. Where do you teach?
A. I teach at ECOT — Electrical Class of Tomorrow. It’s an online charter school. I have the position of student engagement teacher. My job is to monitor kids’ activity online, to make sure that they are getting their required amount of hours and work done. If not, then I do home visits. I’m pretty good at motivating kids to get their work done.
Tom Williams, Vindicator sports staff