Frequently Asked Questions

Sparta Rocket Football Frequently Asked Questions 
The Rocket Football program is a full contact (tackle) football program for children in grades 3-6. Your child does NOT have to be a Sparta resident to participate. Each child will be placed in either the 3rd/4th grade group or 5th/6th grade group based on the child's age on September 1 of the current year and grade in school. The focus is on learning how to play the game of football and have fun doing it. 

Are Special Requests Accepted? 
As much as we like to, we are unable to accept or satisfy any special requests regarding specific coaches, teams, practice schedules, game schedules, or number of home games. Thanks for your understanding! 

What Can I Expect As Far As a Game Schedule for My Child's Team? 
Sparta Youth Football does not control the schedule. The league (i.e., the NRFL) schedules our games for us.  The schedule for the season should be released by Thursday before the first game.  The season consists of 7 games each Saturday starting the first Saturday after Labor Day, and ending 7 weeks after that. Game times can be impacted by several factors, but as a rule there are NO games started prior to 8:00 AM and no games started after 8:00 PM. Your team's opponent, game location, and game time is normally available no later than Thursday each week and published weekly on this website and our league Facebook page. 

Is the Sparta Youth Football League affiliated with or run by the Sparta school district? 
The program is run with the cooperation of the school district but is is no way affiliated with the school district. The program is a part of the NRFL (Northern Rocket Football League) and run solely by volunteers. 

How are Players Assigned to a Team? 
Teams are constructed through a league controlled draft process. Each coach is able to reserve 5 kids. The kids that weren’t reserved are sorted by DOB, weight, and playing experience, and then evenly distributed to a team in their age group by the NRFL. The draft process and the reserved picks gives us what the NRFL feels is a fair balance between dividing up the kids evenly (so we have evenly matched theory), and giving the coaches some continuity from year to year. Normally the kids that are reserved are the coach's child or kids that have played for the coach before. If a coach has 2 assistants, that leaves 2 additional kids that a coach is able to reserve. Don't worry too much if your child wasn't reserved. As you can see, most aren't. 

What is the Practice Schedule Typically Like? 
Each team will have 4 practices the first week, and 3 practices each week after that and through the season. Practices will be held from 6:00pm to 7:30pm.  Contact is limited to 2 practices per week once games have begun.  Please have your child still dressed in full pads and helmet on non-contact nights to best avoid any injuries. 
Are there Weight Limits? 
Yes, however, the weight limit has been changed. Each player's weight must be at or under the limits listed below in order to be a ball carrier.  Players that are over the weight limit are able to play on the line from tackle to tackle and will have a neon orange sticker affixed to his/her helmet. 
    Age Group          Weight Limit 
    3rd/4th                 125 lbs 
    5th/6th                 145 lbs 

What Equipment is Needed? 
Each player must provide:
  1. his/her own helmet (white),
  2. football pants/pads (black),
  3. athletic supporter with protective cup,
  4. shoulder pads, and
  5. football cleats (screw in cleats are permitted, but no metal may be exposed on the bottom of the shoe, metal screw in cleats are prohibited).  

Arm/elbow pads and gloves are optional, mouthguards are provided by the league.  

Equipment can be purchased from several retailers including Prep Sports Centre, MC Sports, Athletes Connection, Dunhams, etc,.  The cost for new equipment is different depending on the size of the player.  On average it will cost about $150 for new equipment.  Equipment can be reused from the previous season.  Typically you can get two season's of use from equipment, depending on how much a player grows fro year to year.

Jerseys are purchased from the league by the player for $38, are customized with the players last name on the back, and can be reused from the previous seasons.  Players can request a specific number at signup.  Typically the player will provide two number choices with their jersey order.  Usually number requests are accepted so long as no other player has chosen the same number in their age group. 

What size football is used in rocket football? 
    Age Group          Football Size 
    3rd/4th                 Junior
    5th/6th                 Youth
Are There Any Rules Concerning PLAYING TIME? 
League rules concerning playing time are very clear. The NRFL rule is “All players shall start on either offense or defense; and thereafter play as equally as possible.” In Sparta, we insist that our coaches follow the letter and spirit of the rule.   The only extenuating circumstances being injury, a player missing practices, a child playing in an unsafe manner, or child refusing to play. There are no exceptions. Coaches do have some discretion to try different line-ups during the course of a game but this should not impact your child’s playing time. 

If you any concerns or questions about your child’s playing time, please discuss it immediately with your coach. And if your concerns are not addressed, feel free to contact the Field Director or any SYFL board member. 

What are the rules (if any) concerning POSITION ASSIGNMENTS? 
For a coach, assigning positions is one of the hardest things to do. We all know that each child can’t all be a running back or a quarterback. The important thing to remember is that there are a variety of positions and each one is just as important as the next. 

Each coach is different and their process will vary, but normally most of the 1st week of practice is spent evaluating each child and trying to match each child to the position that the coach feels is best suited to his skill level and how his or her skill level compares to the rest of the team.  As a parent/fan, please be open-minded regarding your coaches recommendation and support your child & coach regardless of what position he plays. 

What Should I Be Aware of If My Child is Eligible for 78ers? 
If your Sparta student is in the 7th or 8th grade, 14 years old or younger as of September 1, and wants to play organized football, there is a decision that has to be made. He/she is eligible to play in either the Rocket football program or in the school run 78er football program. Although I'm admittedly biased, here is my opinion of both options: 

The Sparta Youth Football League is first and foremost a teaching league. Winning is a goal, but its secondary to learning the game and having fun doing it. At the 7th/8th Rocket age group, the level of competition can and frequently is on par with games played at the 78er level. Your athlete is guaranteed a starting position on either offense or defense. Coaches at this level have normally been coaching in the Rocket program 3 or more years. 

The 78er program is where your athlete will get their first taste of being a part of our Sparta Spartans school football program. There is a lot of pride that comes with that, but just like any school run sport it is play to 'participate' program, not pay to 'play'. Playing time is not guaranteed, and will vary widely between the starters and non-starters. The choice can be difficult and there are pros/cons to both options. For help in making your decision, I'd encourage you to contact your Middle School athletic program for more information about the 78er football program, and to talk to other parents with players that have gone through both programs. 

There are some rule differences between rocket football and 78er football.  Some of the rule differences are:
    1. Rocket football has explicit rules for playing time.
    2. Rocket uses a running game clock of 10 minutes/quarter, 78er uses NFHS timing rules
    3. Rocket plays 7 games, 78ers play 6 games.
    4. 78ers pay $75 activity fee, rocket registration fee is $65 
    5. 78ers provide equipment (except cleats), rocket players are responsible for their                        equipment and jersey.

Sparta Flag Football: Frequently Asked Questions 

As much as we like to, we are unable to accept or satisfy any special requests regarding specific coaches, teams, practice schedules, game schedules, or number of home games.  Thanks for your understanding. 

Is the Sparta Flag Football League affiliated with or run by the Sparta school district?
The program is run with the cooperation of the school district but is is no way affiliated with the school district.  The program is a part ofthe NRFL (Northern Rocket Football League) and run solely by volunteers.

What is the Practice Schedule Typically Like?  
There are 2 weeks of practices and each will typically occur before the 1st game.  Players that are in the pre-K/K division will practice and play at the Varsity Softball field located to the North of Appleview Elementary.  Players that are in the 1st/2nd grade division will practice and play at the Varsity Baseball field located just South of the Varsity Softball field.  Practices will start at either 6 or 7pm.  Coaches will provide the practice and game schedule to their players.

What Can I Expect As Far As a GameSchedule for My Child's Team?  
Games will be held at the same place where the players practice.  Games will start at either 6pm or 7pm.  The coaches will provide the schedule to the players, and it will be available on-line.  Games last usually no more than an hour.  

How are Players Assigned to a Team?  
Teams are constructed by evenly distributing kids by age and experience.  The goal is to evenly balance the teams as much as possible.
What equipment required?
No equipment is required.  Players are supplied with a numbered jersey and flags.  Players can wear shorts or sweatpants.  No cleats are allowed Cleats are optional, tennis shoes are fine.

Can a player choose to play flag football instead of rocket football (or vice versa)?  
No, due to 2015 changes in the rules from our parent league, NRFL, all players who are in 2nd grade or below must play flag football.
What size football is used in Flag Football? 
In the 1st/2nd grade group, a pee-wee size football is used.
For the pre-K/K age group we will use a slightly smaller football (mini).