JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — For over forty years, aspiring football players in Johnson City had to find a local travel team to hone their skills before trying out for a middle or high school team.

That won’t be the case this summer for the first time in over forty years, thanks to a newly launched rec league, a joint effort between Johnson City Schools and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“We just think it’s going to help everything in the community,” Science Hill Head Coach Stacey Carter told News Channel 11.

The City Commission initially approved the football program in February, under the condition that Carter would direct the launch of the first season until the city can hire staff to run the league.

Carter also has support from leaders with the city’s previous travel league, Junior Toppers.

“This could be Junior Toppers taken to another level,” longtime Junior Toppers coach Bart Lyon told News Channel 11.

Carter said he’s wanted to work with the city for years to develop a feeder football program that would introduce elementary school players to the game young.

Registration has opened up for teams at each of Johnson City School’s each elementary schools for kids aged six through 11.

Carter said 140 players are registered now, but he expects that number to grow to 250 or 300 by the time the season starts.

On top of building community, Carter said the youth league could help him build a stronger roster at Science Hill.

“I think it’s a win-win situation for the whole program,” Carter said. “Establish those relationships early, you know, not just through us, but through the parents and through the coaches.”

Interim Parks and Recreation Director April Norris echoes Coach Carter’s vision that the program would build community.

“We’re really trying to invest time and effort into creating that school spirit at the elementary level and building on that all the way through to the middle school level,” said Norris.

Parent Wes Jones said he’s excited about the community aspect of the new program.

The kids are gonna get to play in specific teams with the kids, they go to school with,” said Jones, whose two children are already registered. “My kids go to Lake Ridge. They’re excited to represent Lake Ridge.”

Norris is also working on registration for a cheerleading program that will complement the football league. Registration for the new football league ends June 15.