Arthur Harris and his son Ryder square off for practice.
Most Texans would agree that when it comes to weekends during the Fall season, there are few events more important than Friday night football. And for those involved in the sport, training can begin almost a decade before the player even participates in a high-school football game.
Esquire’s “Friday Night Tykes” explores the intensity and competitiveness with which Texas youth – as young as 5 years old – play the game in preparation for a future on the field. The show is focused on the teams that compete in the Texas Youth Football Association (TYFA), which is the largest independent league in the state of Texas and known to be the most competitive.
The third season of the show, taped during the 2015 football season, features a team that is both close to Kaspar Companies' and associated with one of Kaspar Companies’ very own. The Yoakum Outlawz Junior team (10- and 11-year-old age bracket) were featured as they competed against the Jr. Broncos, San Antonio Outlaws, San Antonio Predators, San Antonio Seahawks and Texas Storm. And Arthur Harris, who has been with Kaspar Companies for almost 30 years, coached the Yoakum Outlawz Rookie team (8- and 9-year-old age bracket) and supported the Junior team from the sidelines right alongside the Friday Night Tykes’ cameras. Arthur’s son, Ryder Harris, played on the Yoakum Outlawz Rookie team during the show’s taping. Ryder’s involvement in the program was one of the main reasons that Arthur joined on as the Rookie team’s coach.
The Yoakum Outlawz were new to the TYFA league, recently transferring to achieve an advanced level of play after years of consistent victory within the Texas Select league. Although the TYFA league proved to be tough, as depicted in the show, the Yoakum Outlawz held their own by playing what Arthur defines as “fundamental football” and describes as an advanced understanding and execution of the fundamentals of the sport.
When season three of Friday Night Tykes aired in January of 2016, Arthur remembers the Junior team players tuning in to the show after practice to see if they could catch themselves on TV. And although he speaks fondly of the experience, it is clear as he reminisces that the excitement and pride in his voice is fueled by the associated memories of time spent bonding with his son through their time together and over their mutual love of the game.
One such memory comes from the first year that Arthur and Ryder joined the Yoakum Outlawz organization, when their team made it to the national championships in Florida. Although they didn’t take home the title that year, they got to play hard on the field and then continue the fun with a family trip to Disney World, making the experience one of Arthur’s fondest memories from his time on the team with his son.
“I might get emotional, but I’ll tell you – my son, he’s a really big part of my life,” says Arthur. “I enjoy being around him and the things we do together.” Now at the age of 10, Ryder continues to work hard to achieve his goal of playing football in both high school and college, and his dad, Arthur, is right there supporting him in every play on the way to actualizing his dreams.