For 40 years, the Chanooka Braves has allowed thousands of boys in the Channahon-Minooka area the opportunity to play football. Although the girls do not play football, they make up the cheerleading squads and root-on the teams at games.
If it wasn’t for the Chanooka Braves, there may not be a football league and cheerleading squads outside the high school program in the area. And there wouldn’t be all these amazing, talented “whiz kids” having fun doing what they love.
Both the Super Light Weight and Junior Varsity teams won the Super Bowl Championship in October. The Junior Varsity Team also went undefeated (11-0). The Superlight and Lightweight Cheerleading took home a first place in competition as well.
“This year has been an exciting one,” said Chanooka Braves Board President Steve Troutman.“The kids get a kick out of it.”
Recently, the Chanooka Braves Board voted to extend the program to allow two teams each in the four levels of football; super light, lightweight, JV and varsity. And with that will come more cheerleaders, as well as the possibility of two Braves teams facing-off in a game, or even the Superbowl.
Troutman said parents were in favor of the board’s decision.
“It has been all positive feedback,” Troutman said. “I haven’t heard one negative thing about the board’s decision.”
More team openings will also avoid complicated registration problems as in the past. The Chanooka Braves have been dubbed the organization where parents have to wait overnight, sometimes in storms, to make sure their child gets a spot on the team. Now with the lotto system put in place and the additional team openings, Troutman said he believes things will run more smoothly.
Because of the additional teams, returning players can vouch to remain on their existing team with teammates who they have played football with since Kindergarten or they can sign-up for the new team and have a better chance of more playing time, Troutman said.
“Everyone says we have the best athletes, but we don’t know that,” Troutman said. “This (additional teams) opens up that opportunity.”
Start-up cost for the new teams cost the club approximately $30,000, Troutman said. Donations from local businesses have offset the cost.
“It is amazing how many are willing to help in this economy,” Troutman said. “It makes me proud to live here. That’s what’s nice about our small community.”
This year also marked the Braves officially getting its home field. With the support of the Channahon School District and Superintendent Karin Evans, Troutman said the field at Three Rivers School is now a place the team calls “home.”
The field has a new scoreboard, goal posts and a press box, Troutman said. He said the Channahon Fire Protection District donated a flagpole and one of the coaches built the concession stand, that can also be used during school track meets.
Bleachers for spectators to sit on this season were donated by the Dollinger Family, Troutman said. The club will be looking into buying bleachers that could also benefit the school during track meets, he said.