Foothill High coach Matt Sweeney loves football and helping kids.

So it seems only natural that Sweeney would be a site director when Next Level Flag Football comes to Foothill in 2015, from January through March.

Sweeney says one great thing about the unique Next Level program, which is for kindergartners through seventh-graders, is that high school players are the head coaches.

The flag program, headed by Serra-San Mateo football coach Patrick Walsh, had a successful debut at Monte Vista this past winter with 450 participants, and will be held at eight different sites next winter.

Walsh, a former standout running back at De La Salle, said the program is more than just a football entry point for kids. It's about community-building.

"The fact that we have high school students that are uniquely intertwined in the success and/or failure of our program allows us to truly be a kids-first organization," Walsh said. "It's almost like organized sandlot, where the older kids get the younger kids and they go out and throw the ball and have a great time, and everyone goes home with a smile on their face,"

Basically, the coaches deliver the sites, and the kids do much of the rest.

"A lot of people love this sport and have never actually played it," Walsh said. "So just kind of tapping into America's passion in a safe way, but also using football as an opportunity to educate and help young kids and parents grow and just become better in everything that they're doing."


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Walsh said they've sold out for four straight years at Serra, and they anticipate having have 960 kids there next winter. Monte Vista's program is headed by Craig Bergman and Mark Kessler.

For more information about Next Level Flag Football, visit www.nextlevelflag.com.

SOFTBALL SUCCESS: Sports fans are spoiled in the East Bay Athletic League, which has good teams and great competition in every sport. That was evident again in the NCS Division I softball championship game on May 31 at Saint Mary's College, when top seeded Amador Valley (27-0) topped No. 3 Granada 2-1.

MONTE VISTA HONORS SENIORS: Monte Vista honored its 23 college-bound senior athletes at a ceremony on May 30. MIT-bound center Spencer Rust, the EBAL basketball MVP, was part of a dream winter season, in which the Mustangs won the school's first boys basketball state title. They also won EBAL, NCS Division I and NorCal crowns. "Graduating after winning a state championship is beyond my wildest dreams," Rust said in a school release. "I cannot wait to head off to MIT and pursue my degree while at the same time continuing to play the sport I love."

Here are the Monte Vista honorees:

Basketball: Spencer Rust, MIT; Trevor John, Cal Poly; Grant Jackson, UCSD; Madison Burroughs, Sonoma State. Soccer: Remi White, UC Santa Barbara; Hailey Balma, San Diego State. Track and field: Chloe Winn, Villanova; Cody Dalton, Arizona. Swimming and dving: Sean Bloore, Utah; Fiona Caulfield, American Univ.; Gabby Barattolo, Cal Poly; Anna Peirano, Kansas; Sara Nicolosi, Villanova. Football: Brendan Landman, Arizona State. Wrestling: Michael McDaniel, Ouachita Baptist. Softball: Marissa Maddox, Cal State Bakersfield. Baseball: Lucas Halstead, Pacific. Lacrosse: Erin Morrison, UC Davis. Water polo: Mimi Harris, Long Beach State; Vincent Chapey, DVC. Golf: Zack Bailey, George Washington. Baseball: Jordan Peterson, San Francisco State. Volleyball: Jessica Ober, George Washington.

SLINGING IT AT TUFTS: Pitcher Kyle Slinger, a 2011 San Ramon Valley graduate, had a 9-0 record at Tufts University in Medford (Mass.) and was honored as NESCAC Pitcher of the Year. The junior was also first team All New England, D3.com Pitcher of The Year, second team ABCA All American and first team D3.com All American.

Contact Matt Schwab at mschwab@bayareanewsgroup.com, or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/schwab_matt.

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