WJYAA purchases new helmets

The West Jefferson Youth Athletic Association (WJYAA) is the largest youth organization in Madison County and it had a challenge going into this football season. It’s challenge is the number of kids playing youth football is decreasing.

A decision was made to form a steering committee to analyze and see how it could attract more kids to the football program. This committee included the West Jefferson High School coach, several community members at large and board members.

The committee determined that there were two key areas that needed immediate attention, safety and parent confidence. There were several ideas that came from an initial discovery meeting, which were immediately approved and implemented by WJYAA.

Safety was addressed in a couple ways. First was limiting practice contact. This is a big change in comparison to previous years, as full contact practices were cut in half. Shorter practice times were a result as well. Not only does this eliminate the opportunity for injury, but also reduces burnout over time.

Another area of focus was tackling technique. Coaches from the West Jeff High School team conducted a mandatory coaches clinic with WJYAA coaches. A major part of that clinic centered on teaching kids safer tackling techniques.

A third area of attention was equipment. Through the generous donations of many local businesses, WJYAA was able to buy new helmets to replace many older outdated helmets. This was a significant step from a safety aspect. They are also planning to implement a new process at the completion of the season to have the equipment reviewed and reconditioned to ensure everything is in good order.

WJYAA added increased importance to coach certification and WJYAA revised an outdated background check policy, and increased attention to positive coaching style and encouragement. The hope is that the renewed emphasis on safety through equipment, limited practice, and positive coaching style and technique will allow parents to be more confident that their young athletes will love the sport and be as safe as they can possibly be while playing it.

Similar efforts have been made at other county programs as well. An example of that is that the London Youth Football Program was able to replace all of its helmets this season.

WJYAA President John Stanley, appreciates the football committee and said, “Those guys are phenomenal, Jerry Fitzpatrick (Chairman), John Koehler, John Keyt, Mike Book, and Shawn Buescher. The WJYAA Board is stretched, so when they can get a dream team together with knowledge, experience like these gentlemen, it’s a true blessing and the kids will benefit in the long run.

“The West Jefferson Youth Athletic Association would like to extend a huge amount of gratitude on behalf of the kids and the entire organization to all the sponsors throughout our program. They usually have the recurring sponsors help with the seasonal needs to help keep costs low for parents and to purchase usual season necessities. For this huge undertaking, they knocked on a whole new set of doors outside of these usual sponsors.

“Again Jerry Fitzpatrick deserves a lot of the thanks, he personally is the one that made the calls to these sponsors. He’d do anything to help his community especially the kids he serves. He saw a need and started making some calls and collected over $5,700 which every dime was for helmet replacement.”

WJYAA would like to thank the following sponsors for their generous donations to help purchase brand new helmets and some good used ones: Krazy Glue, Angie Travis/Cutler Real Estate, Travis Transport Inc., American Leak Detection, Hilliard Tire and Auto Repair, ServiceMaster by Martin and NAPA.

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Gunner Yates holds his new helmet.
https://www.madison-press.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2017/08/web1_GunnerYatespiccol.jpgGunner Yates holds his new helmet. Contributed photo

Cameron Minton holds his new helmet.
https://www.madison-press.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2017/08/web1_CameronMintonpiccol.jpgCameron Minton holds his new helmet. Contributed photo

Jaxson Johnson is all smiles with his new helmet.
https://www.madison-press.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2017/08/web1_JaxsonJohnsonpiccol.jpgJaxson Johnson is all smiles with his new helmet. Contributed photo

Logan Hart is wearing his new helmet.
https://www.madison-press.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2017/08/web1_LoganHartpiccol.jpgLogan Hart is wearing his new helmet. Contributed photo

Staff report