The Fairfield County Youth Football League in Ohio noticed some unsavory trends occurring in its program recently.
From win-at-all-costs coaching behavior to out-of-control parents, it was evident that adults involved in the league forgot what youth sports is really about – the kids.
“We decided that we needed to make changes if we wanted to be around for another 30 years,” said Bob Burkhart, a board member of the Fairfield County Youth Football League which serves between 180 to 240 children ages 7-13. “We needed to make sure that we were doing everything we could to make this the best league it could be.”
After researching their options and talking with other organizations, the league found the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS).
“NAYS provides us with the tools to make our league better,” said Burkhart.
Changes the league will implement for the 2015 season by using NAYS programs and resources include requiring all volunteer coaches to complete training through the National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA), as well as the NAYS bullying and concussion prevention trainings. Board members are required to complete these trainings, too, plus the training provided by the National Youth Sports Administrators Association (NYSAA), a program created to address the unique needs of volunteer youth sports administrators.
“We are requiring these programs to make sure we create a safe and positive sports environment for the youth of Fairfield County,” said Burkhart. “We want the community to know we are doing everything we can to provide the best experience for the youth and their parents.”
Ohio's Return-to-Play Law, put into effect in April 2013, requires youth sports coaches and referees to complete concussion prevention training to learn how to recognize the symptoms of concussions and head injuries.
“The concussion training is mandated by the state of Ohio for any youth coach, but even if it was not mandatory it is something that we would want all of our coaches to take,” Burkhart said. “We want to do everything we can to protect the kids while teaching them the game of football.”
Burkhart explains that the bullying prevention training is just as important as any other training coaches and board members have to take.
“We only get these kids for a small amount of time and making a positive atmosphere for them to learn and grow is important,” he said. “You never know what these kids are dealing with at school, home or in the community and if we have a chance to make a difference in their lives, we want to do that.”
The bullying prevention training prepares volunteers to prevent, recognize and respond to bullying behaviors in youth sports.
Burkhart hopes the change Fairfield County Youth Football has made not only improves their league, but the community too.
“We think these training programs are a differentiator for our league and encourage other leagues in the area to follow our lead,” he said.Fairfield Football NYSCA Training Concussion Bullying
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