Coaching Champions

Coaching Champions

by Susan Neuhalfen

They’re the Lantana dream team of coaches and they have just gone undefeated and won the Super Bowl. Again.

Lantana residents Michael Carver, Craig Mikolacjack, Todd Arnold, Corey Austin, and Ivan Posada have now won multiple championships for the Lantana Wildcats Youth Football League. The funny thing is, none of them has a kid on the team.

“We coached our own kids from 4th through 6th grade and they all now play for Harpool Middle School,” said Carver. “We loved coaching together so much, we decided to start over with the 2nd grade team.”

Second grade is the first year that tackle is allowed in this league and these coaches are all USA Heads Up Football certified. This is a very intensive training that each of these coaches has taken, making sure that football is taught the right way and that safety comes first. When asked his thought on 2nd graders playing tackle, Carver has very strong feelings.

“The game has changed for the better,” said Carver. “I would much rather my kid learn the right technique of how to tackle early in his career than when he’s playing against kids over 150 pounds.”

In addition to practicing twice a week, these kids watch film of their games as well as their opponents’ games, usually on Saturdays (game days). Carver explains that it helps them to understand what to look for, bringing their “football IQ” to a rather impressive level. It also helps them to understand their job on the team.

“We always preach to them about doing their job and getting better at their job every time,” said Carver. “It’s a great life lesson, the harder they work at their job, the better they will be each week.”

Having well-trained, unbiased coaches has to be a dream for the parents as well.

“Yeah, I hear that a lot,” said Carver. “The parents like having coaches without kids on the team.”

The Lantana Wildcats Youth Football Association (LWYFA) has leagues for all elementary school ages K-6. Flag football for K-1st and tackle for 2nd – 6th. It is a recreational league and is open to any student from an elementary school that feeds into Guyer High School. Interested parents can find out more at

Carver and his team will begin practice again in August, back with the now 3rd grade team. They plan to follow them through their Lantana Wildcats’ careers until they, too, reach middle school age and move on. In the meantime, they are looking forward to getting back on the field. Going from seeing them three times a week to occasionally at the store isn’t cutting it for Carver. Truth is, he misses the boys.

So what is best thing about working with kids this young who want to learn football?

“The best thing is that they are so eager to learn the game and want to play the game the right way,” said Carver. “Then there’s the fact that they have so much fun doing it. It’s great to be a part
of this.”

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