Founded in February, youth sports organization BNA Sports seeks to create lasting experiences for its players and to provide children the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of youth sports.
“It’s not just teaching these kids how to run, how to block, how to catch the ball, but also how to be a great teammate, how to be responsible, how to be held accountable, how to act once you lose, how to act once you win,” Director Darrell Taylor said. “(How) once we pull a flag, let’s give it back to the other team. That’s what we do here.”
The idea behind this is to create an atmosphere in which young athletes are not only developed as athletes but also as individuals.
“From a culture standpoint, we really are trying to make them understand the importance of team,” coach Mike Rodriguez said. “So we talk about encouraging your teammate if they drop the ball or they make a mistake, or that if a mistake is made is not necessarily that player’s fault, it could be anyone on the team doing one thing wrong.
“It’s also about making your name great,” he said. “We want them to be proud of their name, as well, so there is a combination of cultural standpoint of understanding the importance of team but also of who you are as an athlete.”
A person’s name represents much more than one individual, Taylor said.
“Your name means a lot more than you think,” he said. “You represent something that’s bigger than yourself. You represent your father, you represent your mother, you represent your brother, your sister, and that goes a long way.”
It seems that combination of learning the game and learning life is working. Since its inception, BNA Sports already has grown to 22 teams and more than 160 athletes.
And most recently, BNA’s first 8U travel team — The Bengals — already has a championship to its name. That team brought home rings from the annual Flag Football X Tournament, held Aug. 20, 2021, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“They wore a patch on their team jersey proudly saying they were part of the travel team — part of the Bengals,” Mike Rodriguez.
Middle linebacker Tyler Plotkin, 9, said the game for the championship title was filled with emotions and that the opportunity to play at the home of the Dallas Cowboys was amazing.
“It was a very nerve-wracking game, because it was the championship,” he said. “I think all of us tried our best, which led for us to succeed and just (to play) on a real-life football field where professionals play in a stadium which actually was an NFL field, it was amazing.”
Tyler Plotkin was named Defensive MVP of the game, Miles Taylor was named Offensive MVP, and Mason Rodriguez was the snapper that scored the extra point to bring the championship title home.
“(My favorite part about the championship) was winning the championship, because we got that extra point when I got the ball and scored that extra point,” Mason Rodriguez said.
Wins are great, sure, but ultimately, BNA Sports seeks to provide its athletes with experiences they will cherish for a lifetime.
“At the end of the day, these kids will forget everything about the wins and loses, but they will never forget the experience that they had, the friends that they made and the lives that they were able to impact by being themselves and representing themselves as well as representing (their) family,” Taylor said.
Practice for BNA Sports Athletes encompasses more than just learning the rules of the game.
“We obviously want to do well and win, but it’s not about that,” coach Mike Plotkin said. “It’s building character, it’s building sportsmanship.”
Mike Rodriguez and Mike Plotkin said coaching at BNA is not only caring about the game but also the athletes.
“I love the game, obviously, I love my son, so I want to be involved in it,” Mike Plotkin said. “I just wanted to give back to the kids. … I love the game, love coaching and having that extra time with my son. Nothing can beat it.”
“I care enough, let alone the fact that your child is playing,” Mike Rodriguez said. “You get to see the other kids, and then your child connects to that kid, and they truly enjoy it. So then you feel a sense of responsibility like, ‘I want to make sure that they know what they are doing.’”
Looking forward, the organization is excited to grow and continue offering play time opportunities and events for the players to keep growing as both — athletes and their own individuals.
For more information, visit bnasports.org.