Glastonbury Youth Football teams open training camp
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Aug. 9, 2013
The Glastonbury Youth Football Association has been aflutter with activity, even before practices began on Aug. 5.
GYFA President Michael Edelwich said that 187 players are taking part this year, which is on par with last year's numbers, but they are still accepting more players into September. Edelwich has a son who plays on the 'B' level and had been volunteering for six years before taking on the leadership role this summer.
While the teams have started conditioning, and are slowly easing into wearing pads and helmets, there is a bigger emphasis on safety this year. Baseline testing for concussion prevention has begun for the young football players (as well as for cheerleaders) and the GYFA is also sharing safety practices with the Glastonbury High School team.
“We get it down from them, and we go over everything,” Edelwich said, adding that several GYFA coaches also work with the high school teams, and that imparting knowledge both ways makes both programs stronger.
“We try to be a feeder program for the high school, and all of our coaches have access to USA Football safety guidelines,” he said. “We want that terminology and technique brought to be consistent.”
Helmet fittings are done with care, even if it takes longer.
“It's not as easy as, ‘Try this on and get out there,’” Edelwich said. “It probably takes 15 minutes for each helmet fitting, and we have 187 of them.”
Edelwich said the volunteer support has been as strong as ever, with parents and families helping out in many facets, including manning the snack shack all day for each of eight game days every fall. “If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't exist,” Edelwich said.
For many of the players, this year is one of redemption. Three GYFA teams competed in league championship games last fall. All three lost.
“At the C, B and A level, we all played [title games] at Rentschler Field, and lost each won,” Edelwich said, but added that nearly every player on the group's four other teams came out to support their compatriots. “Everyone was there to watch the game, and that makes it like a community effort.”
Still, the expectations this year will be high for all seven teams.
“The talent is there,” he said. “We're competitive across the board.”
Wins are nice, but the real success of the league is retaining the number of players. “We all want to win, but if kids don't come back next year, we lost,” Edelwich said.
Games begin on Sept. 8. For more information, visit www.gyfa.com.