ALBION, N.Y. — When he was in middle school, Tyler Kast idolized the Albion High School varsity football team.
But the players were intimidating, he admits, and he wasn't quite sure how to approach them.
"They were the big, scary dudes," Kast said, "and you didn't know who they were."
Now that Kast is a senior himself, he's doing his best to mentor those younger middle school players on the modified team. It's all part of Albion's new "Big Brother" program, created by first-year head coach Adam Krenning.
The idea is simple: Each varsity player pairs with a younger player from the modified team, preferably a player that plays the same position. The varsity players help their counterparts not only with football, but also with schoolwork and life.
It's been a huge success so far — for both the older and younger players.
"Now that we're helping, it's like a family," Kast said. "From 12th grade all the way down to 7th grade."
Zachary Olles, an 8th grader, said he's gotten a lot of help from the varsity team.
"It feels good to know there's someone you can always talk to," he said, "when you're having problems on the field, in school, or in life in general."
Coach Krenning said the modified team's grades already appear to be slightly improved compared to last year.
"I'm trying to build a culture of respect," Krenning said. "I tell the kids, the wins and losses don't matter. What matters is how we develop these athletes into community members."
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