Youth football teams prepare for season
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Aug. 5, 2011
Even though there are still 47 days of summer left (at press time, but who's counting?), it's not too early for the Glastonbury Youth Football Association to start getting players ready for the upcoming fall football season.
The association will again field teams divided by age level (A, B, C and Mighty Mites) with one A-team, for a total of seven, populated by approximately 200 players.
“The program is strong,” said Will Anthony, one of the coaches of the B-team. “We kept our price the same, and we still offer scholarships to needy kids. We have a pretty strong return rate, too.”
That return rate translates to stronger teams. Last year, Glastonbury won the league championship at the C-level, and the A- and B-teams combined for three losses all season.
Anthony said this year's A-team (mostly eighth-graders) should be very competitive, under coach Phil Malara. Anthony has four sons, all of whom he has coached in the program. His youngest son, Luke, is on the A squad.
The games start Sept. 11, and home games will again be played at Glastonbury High School.
A jamboree is scheduled with teams from Windsor, Rocky Hill and Bloomfield on Aug. 28.
The A- and B-teams will also attend an overnight camp in Ivoryton on Labor Day weekend that enhances team-building skills and includes fun activities.
As with sports on all levels, there is an increased effort to keep players safe. Coaches must now complete an online course in concussion training, as well as a more-complete CPR course. Helmets were also replaced last year, and now all players wear state-of-the art head gear. A physician is also scheduled to speak to the group and review heat and dehydration issues.
"We're constantly trying to make sure we're providing the safest experience,” Anthony said. “We're discussing just how much contact we're going to have, and evaluating all of our drills to make sure we're staying consistent.” Anthony added that, although at the younger levels football impacts aren't as dangerous, the league is very cautious if a player has even the slightest injury.
The GYFA has been a great feeder to the high school team, and several GHS players who have come through the youth program have returned to offer assistance.
New GHS head coach Scott Daniels recently visited with the GYFA board, and offered to be a resource to the youth coaches. He also offered to speak with eighth-graders about what to expect at the high school level.
“It's a very strong relationship,” Anthony said.
For now, the practices are weeknights at Gideon Welles School, and parents and family members regularly attend, making it appear like a small community. When the season starts, family members comprise the force of volunteers who make game days possible and fun for those in attendance. “The families are terrific,” Anthony said. “It's the best part about the program.”
For more information, and a complete schedule of games, visit www.gyfa.com.