Mark Broersma's Friday Night Lights leagues have been enormously popular
Co-founder, commissioner, webmaster
Broersma spent 20 years working as an executive in the Mars candy bar division of Masters Food before retiring at age 45. Freshly unchained from the corporate life, Broersma, a 1978 Los Alamitos (Calif.) High School graduate, had ample time to not only attend his three kids’ activities but also dream up a new one. Broersma, who lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Roosmoor, and partner Chad Ketchum started Friday Night Lights Flag Football in 2006. “When we started this 10 years ago, I don’t think flag football existed in Southern California,” said Broersma, who through grade school played flag football through his local YMCA. “It think it had gone dead.” Broersma said his kids and their friends were “playing everything but football” and wanted to give them a taste of the sport. The kindergarten-thorugh-eighth grade league in Los Alamitos attracted 300 participants the first year. Now there are 15,000 participants across 11 leagues spread throughout Southern California. Some leagues have as many as 1,500 players, and they will attract as many as 3,000 spectators (family and friends) on game nights. Parking quickly became one of Broersma’s biggest concerns. “There isn’t a lot of parking to begin with at some of these fields,” Broersma said. “Then, when the league really took off, they start parking everywhere.”
Broesrma’s list of duties on game nights can include everything from painting lines on the field in the early afternoon to picking up trash as late as 11 p.m. after the games end. Each of the 11 Friday Night Lights Flag Flootbal leagues have individual sites, and Broersma still serves as webmaster of the Los Alamitos/Seal Beach site. He trains the commissioners of the other 10 leagues on everything from posting photos and articles to getting registrations set up. The sites include sections devoted to the league’s Rules and Regulations, Expansion Opportunities and Cheer program. The Los Alamitos/Seal Beach site’s home page also includes two videos that provide overviews of the league. Schedules and scores also are posted on the sites.
Online registration is one of the most important aspects of the sites, Broersma said. Registrations for most leagues usually are filled in a manner of days, if not hours. “We didn’t want people sitting at park benches for eight hours waiting to sign up,” Broersma said. “People can register at their own convenience, and we’re not wasting everyone’s time.”