The 2018 Eatonville High School football team partnered up with the Eatonville Jr. Cruisers youth football team to hold their first annual Big Brother night on Aug. 25. A select number of players from the high school team volunteered their time to help mentor their younger counterparts this season. Big Brother Night is a kick-off event to a mentorship program that links the high school football players with 3rd – 6th grade Junior Cruiser players.

On this night, each youth player was given a high school player as a “Big Brother” and the high school player presented him with the youth players Jr. Cruiser jersey for the season. They all spent a little time getting to know each other, eating pizza, and talking football. As the evening came to a close, all the players got together outside and joined in a game of keep away together. The looks on everyone’s faces showed they were all having a great time.

Each “Big Brother” who volunteers his time is tasked with doing a few things throughout the season to help mentor his youth player. They each must attend a minimum of 3 practices with their youth players team, and help out. They also must attend at least one of the youth players games to help root them on. They will also be writing their youth players a couple of letters throughout the season to help build a relationship and check in on the player from time to time. 

Eatonville High School’s head football coach Gavin Kralik, who helped get the program started in Eatonville said the program benefits both the elementary and high school students.

“It allows the high school students the opportunity to invest in to the lives of the next generation,” he said. “… I think it is really special when we have the high school community connected with the middle school and elementary students. If athletics can be used as a means to do that I think our entire community benefits from that partnership.”

When Coach Kralik was hired as Eatonville’s new head coach back in the summer of 2017, one of the things he really wanted to work on was building a football program that would reach down to the youth level to the middle school players all the way up to the high school. This is just another way he is accomplishing that. He already has included the 6th-8th graders in the high school summer workout/weightlifting program and the younger kids are already starting to see that pay off out on the field.