The cost of being a football parent

White River Township resident Peggy Young came to the door wearing a red Center Grove football jersey.

On the back, the jersey read “Young 23,” representing her son, Dane Young, a defensive back and special teams player for the Center Grove Trojans, which will play for the Class 6A state championship on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Everyone who attends the game will see the end result of a lifetime of preparation in 48 minutes of gridiron action, but they won’t see the amount of time, money and effort it took to get each player to that point.

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On a table next to the entrance of the Young home rests a black football helmet, along with photos from her son’s upbringing, donning the various uniforms he’s worn since he first played football competitively in the first grade.

Dane Young and two of his teammates, quarterback Tayven Jackson and outside linebacker Trey Clark, played with one another for Jackson’s father, Ray, when Dane Young was in second grade. Now, the boys will all take the field together on one of the biggest stages of their lives, taking on the Carmel Greyhounds in a rematch of the 2016 title game that Carmel won in overtime.

Dane Young took a break from football in fifth and sixth grade, but the rest of his journey has been weekly games and practices, and lifting weights almost daily. Young has also played basketball the entire time, jumping from season to season each year, leaving only the time around spring break as a moment of calm.

When that final whistle blows on Saturday, he’ll get ready to hit the hardwood, looking to push that team to the state finals after they fell short in a semistate game against Ben Davis last season.

This year is the first year Peggy Young hasn’t had to drive her son to every game and practice, as Dane Young turned 16 and earned his driver’s license. The Young family pays $350 per year in participation fees for Dane Young to play basketball at Center Grove and would pay another $450 per year for football, but she covers the cost of each football season by selling $10 cards with discounts to local businesses for the team, Peggy Young said.

Dane Young’s father, Tony, spends quality time with his son talking about football strategy and watching college and NFL games on TV with him and pointing out football fundamentals. He coached Dane in his elementary years in not only football and basketball, but also baseball. Tony Young also coached the Indy Hoops Academy basketball team, which Dane Young played for during middle school.

Once high school started, the time commitment for both Peggy Young, who drove her son to his athletic ventures, and Dane Young, who had to put in more hours in the weight room and on the practice field, ramped up, Peggy Young said.

“In high school, during the summer, it’s 7 a.m. weights, 8 a.m. speed and agility and then practice for a couple of hours,” Peggy Young said. “After school, it’s practice from about 3 to 6 (p.m.).”

Still, all that focus on athletics hasn’t affected Dane Young’s academics. He earned a scholar-athlete certificate last year after his GPA topped 3.5.

“He’s not a procrastinator. He’s a dedicated young man. I don’t have to say anything. He just gets his work done,” Peggy Young said.

In football, Dane Young also received the junior varsity coaches award last year after earning the Most Outstanding Defensive Skills Player award his freshman year.

With all the preparation and time that goes into raising a son who plays football, game days are often the experience Peggy Young said she looks forward to most.

“We would always have breakfast with families at the pavilion Saturday morning,” Peggy Young said. “For away games, we’ll find a restaurant and all go together.”

Dane Young’s sister, Sheridan, plays volleyball at Middle School Central, and although the two don’t get as much time together as other siblings due to their busy schedules, they cherish the time they do have, Sheridan Young said.

“It’s really cool. I’m like ‘That’s my brother out there. That is my brother.’ It’s so cool,” Sheridan Young said. “It’s easy for us to connect on a sports level if he does something really good. If I do something in sports, he’ll tell people about it.”

Dane Young’s work has paid off. He had two interceptions against New Palestine earlier this season and recovered a fumble in the final minutes of a 17-10 victory against Ben Davis in last week’s semistate. Now, his efforts have helped punch a ticket to the state final.

“It’s gonna be breathtaking,” he said. “We practiced (at Lucas Oil Stadium) and we took pictures and took it all in for 20 minutes. It’s going to be awesome, all the adrenaline. It’s just going to go crazy, having all the fans on the sideline cheering us on and hyping us up.”

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Center Grove takes on Carmel at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in the Class 6A state championship game.

Tickets: $15 per person (children 5 and under free). Available at Center Grove High School today at the athletic office (door 3) from 9 a.m. to noon and Saturday outside the main gymnasium (door 9) from noon to 2 p.m.


Before, during and after the game, we will be publishing on all our digital platforms, keeping you up to date with photos, play-by-play, scores and tidbits about the atmosphere in Lucas Oil Stadium.

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And of course, make sure to get Monday’s newspaper for extensive photos and coverage.