The evolution of the Mighty Mite football program in Monett was described by Sean Kelley, organization president, for the Monett Kiwanis Club this week.
Kelley said the Mighty Mite program was founded by Jack Fox in 1960. Fox headed the program for 10 years, initially receiving assistance from Ralph Scott, who served as Monett High School football coach during the 1957-58 school year and taught chemistry.
Initially the program was set up for fourth, fifth and sixth graders. The uniform was blue jeans and tennis shoes. Games were described by Kelley as "scrimmages," because no scores were kept. Game day was Saturday, and still is.
During the first year, there were 40 children participating. Kelley said this year there are 22 third graders, 31 fourth graders and 34 fifth graders participating. In addition. there are 75 cheerleaders this year, compared to 45 last year.
Practices are still held three nights a week. Games run from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays at Burl Fowler Stadium. Licensed officials oversee all games.
Last year the organization had its first fundraising event. Kelley said there is a need to increase the number of tackling dummies from two per team to six per team. Players wear helmets and pads today.
One of Kelley's goals is to have the equipment sanitized by a professional firm at the end of the season before reuse. Kelley said the organization is also having its equipment refurbished between seasons.
The biggest goal of Mighty Mites, Kelley said, is to have as many young athletes as possible playing. Every youngster who joins a team gets time on the field. The program is open to children from towns around Monett.
Kelley expressed appreciation to the Monett School District for use of Burl Fowler Stadium for games, and to the Monett Booster Club for use of the concessions building. Cheerleaders do routines at the halftime of games. At last week's high school home game, the cheerleaders joined their high school counterparts to cheer on the Cubs.
The games this Saturday will be at Aurora. On Sept. 26 teams will be back playing in Monett.
Club President Lisa Balmas presided at the meeting. Frank Compton was the program chairman.
In club news, the annual installation banquet will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Grant's Restaurant on Sept. 24. Club members will raise funds for charity during Peanut Day on Sept. 25.
The Monett Kiwanis Club meets weekly for lunch at a program at noon on Tuesdays, usually at Happy House restaurant.