The SouthEast Valley Youth Football League is currently seeking interested players as it prepares for its 45th season in the Valley.
SEV, which operates primarily out of the Ahwatukee area, caters to athletes across the East Valley. Last year, the league’s teams were known as the Titans. This year, however, the coaches decided to base the team names off of Desert Vista, using the same color scheme and a similar logo.
“The kids really like that,” first-year league President Rae Black said. “They look up to the older boys and some of them are their older brothers across the Ahwatukee area and the different high schools.”
SEV is a nonprofit in the Valley that Black said is known for teaching kids how to play football in both a safe and respectable manner.
“We want kids to have a good time,” Black said. “We teach them sportsmanship and all about the brotherhood that is formed through playing sports. They really build friendships for life. Some of them have gone all the way through high school and college and they’re still friends.
“It’s interesting to watch.”
The league currently consists of five teams that cater to different age groups. Three of the teams are in unweighted divisions and the other two are in weighted ones.
Unweighted divisions include Mite, which caters to 7- to 9-year-olds, Midget for players ages 8 to 10 and the middle school group for players ranging from 12 to 15. Junior Major – ages 11 to 13 – and Pee Wee – 10 to 12 – make up the two weighted divisions.
Black said there is a possibility for divisions to be merged given the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and whether parents will feel comfortable having their kids play football this fall. There’s also the potential for the league to be canceled due to the virus.
One of the key reasons for SEV’s longstanding presence in the Valley is due to the coaches. Nearly every coach has been involved with the league for years and is also currently or has recently been a coach at one of the local high schools. The league has also been called home by several current and former players at both Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista.
Black said at one point, the league was considered a feeder for program for the local high schools. Teams in the league mimicked uniforms and nicknames for Desert Vista, Mountain Pointe, Corona del Sol and others. Now, she hopes to reestablish that and expand it to all five of Tempe Union High School District’s schools.
“We want to get back to that alignment,” Black said. “These kids don’t just end up at Desert Vista. Some go to Mountain Pointe, some go to Tempe, McClintock, Corona -- they all don’t just flood to one school. We even have kids from Gilbert that go to Higley, Chandler and Hamilton.
“As a nonprofit, we want to make sure we remain part of the community.”
League play will begin on Sept. 12. Black said there is a chance for some out-of-league games against teams from out of state to take place. But primarily, they will all take place against other leagues across the Valley involved in National Youth Sports (NYS). Games will be played on Saturday at various times throughout the day.
All home games are scheduled to be played at Desert Vista High School on its new turf field scheduled to be completed before the fall semester of school. Not only does it allow for a new, safe environment for all of the league’s teams, but it also allows them an added sense of pride given they will be playing on a field that will have their colors and logo.
“It will be so fun for the kids,” Black said. “The kids all wanted to play there. How fun for a small kid to experience something like that? If we can get this going and be safe, they’re going to have a blast.”
One key factor Black believes is the reason for SEV’s success for nearly half a century is the community that has continuously supported it.
She believes it has only grown stronger over the years and will continue to grow in the future.
“We have coaches who generally love kids,” Black said. “At this point, we all have some kids who have aged out of youth football. This league is really like a family.”