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Family's volunteers keep RJFL rolling along

Sep 10, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

There are many things about our hometown that seem to never change.

Main Street intersects with Federal at City Park. The Wind River curls its way around town to the south. Mary Longtine will greet you with a joyful "Hello!" at Smith's Food and Drug.

And if you've had anything to do with the Riverton Junior Football League for the past 20-30 years, odds are that members of the Watson family were there to help with the league then, just as they are today.

They're still hard at it every fall, making sure Riverton kids have a good experience with the RJFL, and seeing to it that all the equipment is ordered and ready, the fields are mowed and striped, the concession stand is stocked and ready, the bathrooms are clean and presentable, the coaches are organized, and the teams are picked -- along with doing everything else that needs to be done.

It's been that way forever, it seems.

Thank goodness.

When other local leagues and activities have come and in some cases struggled or are gone altogether because of lack of parental or adult leadership, the RJFL has thrived.

The Watsons, including RJFL leader Brett, Packers coach Danny, concession stand organizers Dean, Darlene, Darce, Kay and Jan, and third-generation and current RHS assistant coaches Tyler and Derek are the backbone of the RJFL.

Danny has been coaching in the league since the 1980s. Brett has been a primary organizer since he moved with his family back to Riverton from Worland in 1991.

And other members of the family have come aboard.

Certainly there are many, many other volunteers who have helped coach (including longtime coach and second cousin Earland Thompson), work the sidelines, officiate and do other things that make the league tick. But it's worth noting that the Watsons and many other RJFL volunteers don't have any kids of their own in the league, and haven't for years.

Webster's dictionary must reference the Watsons when they describe what it means to be a volunteer.

Even Dean and Darlene Watson's great grandson Carter was in the concession stand last week. I'm sure he was learning how to pop the popcorn just right from the master, his great-grandpa.

Last year was the first time in many years that I wasn't able to see a single RJFL game.

I truly missed the league.

But that changed Thursday, when the RJFL, founded by John Hursh in 1981, launched its 33rd season.

In between games, I went to the concession stand and ordered a "Dean Dog." It's not on the official menu, but that's what I've named it.

And it tasted just as good as it has for the last few decades.

Next week I'll order a "Darlene Dog".

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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