When the YMCA took over youth tackle football in Odessa, YMCA executive director John Wilfert immediately started looking for ways to make the program better.
Not that the CPBYAA had been doing a bad job.
Wilfert simply wanted to provide as many resources as possible to the program. By partnering with USA Football and the NFL, the YMCA has opened up a new wave of opportunities for coaches, referees and players.
Locked down all day in presentations, Wilfert spent two days in Canton, Ohio — the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame — last week learning how to make youth football in Odessa better.
“My head is swimming right now,” Wilfert said. “But the major shift is that we’ll partner with USA Football and the NFL. It’s going to be the same type of league, but we’re going to raise the bar.”
First and foremost, partnering with USA Football will allow the YMCA to make educating coaches and referees a top priority.
To coach youth tackle football this fall, every coach has to be certified through USA Football, which has put together a two-and-a-half hour program centered around coaching kids. The YMCA is footing the bill for the certification, Wilfert said.
“The biggest hurdle we have is that coaches come in not knowing how to teach kids to play the game,” USA Football South Regional manager Dave Fanucchi said. “At that level, it’s not about the X’s and O’s, it’s about the fundamentals.”
Wilfert also spent a good portion of his time in Canton learning about injury prevention.
In two days of sessions, Wilfert said he learned about concussion rehabilitation, liability issues and strength and conditioning for kids.
Bringing USA Football and the NFL into the Odessa picture is an opportunity to bring a vast amount of resources to the Permian Basin, he said. In addition to coaches’ certification, players and referees can sign up to participate at USA Football’s website.
“We all have the same common goal,” Wilfert said. “When we partner with them, their resources are almost unlimited, and both USA Football and the NFL have great information.”
YMCA Tackle Football
>> Late Registration: Through July 31
>> Cost: $150. After Aug. 1, the cost rises to $200.
>> Practice begins: Aug. 16
>> First game: Sept. 11.
>> Call: The YMCA at 362-4301.