Semi-pro football team gives eastern Idahoans unique chance to play under stadium lights
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IDAHO FALLS — A local football team is providing sporting opportunities and helping create lasting memories for men in eastern Idaho who can’t get enough of the game they love.
Fifty-seven-year-old Cody Stegelmeier is one of the players on the team. He played football at North Fremont High School in Ashton and at Idaho State University in 1980. Four decades later, he’s still putting on a helmet and lacing up his cleats but with east Idaho’s semi-pro football team, the Idaho Mustangs.
The team is comprised of 45 players and has been around for roughly 26 years. The players aren’t paid to play. In fact, Stegelmeier said they travel at their own expense mostly to Utah, Montana and Oregon. They also buy their own equipment, except for the uniforms.
“It’s like any other hobby,” Stegelmeier said. “Some guys fish. Some guys like to do hunting and other hobbies, and my hobby and my love is football, ever since I was a little boy.”
One of his friends on the team invited him to attend a practice in the spring of 2008, and since then, Stegelmeier’s been with the Mustangs.
But playing the game now versus back in high school and college is different, Stegelmeier said.
Not only has he undergone two knee surgeries during his time with the Mustangs and now wears knee braces when he plays, but he’s had the chance to do what most people never get to. He’s shared the field with his son, Cory, and he currently plays ball with his 21-year-old son-in-law, Andrew Creed.
“It’s fun to get out there and share our love of the game with each other,” Stegelmeier said.
This is Creed’s first season with the Mustangs and only second time playing the game since middle school. He said being on the team with his father-in-law has strengthened their relationship.
“I get to spend a lot of time with him, and I get to look up to my 57-year-old father-in-law who plays the entire game of football,” he said. “It’s a huge honor to be able to play on the same team as him.”
Glenn Leavitt is one of the team’s owners, a linebacker for the Mustangs and his son, Sam, is on the team too. Similar to Stegelmeier, he said playing with his son has been a dream come true.
“It’s something you can do with your children that you can’t do any other way,” Leavitt said. “There’s a lot of camaraderie as a team, and then you have the added benefit that we have family members on the same team. It’s a multi-generational thing.”
Creed said having players of all different ages on the team and people who are related to one another makes Mustangs football a unique experience, and something he’s happy to be part of.
“Football is their passion, so they show up and they put everything on the field. They teach where they can and help where they can, and they just want everybody to succeed,” Creed said about the players older than him. “It’s more like a family than anything.”