Youth football kicks off at Marcus Field
Celebrating 27 years, Jefferson County Youth Football started the 2016 season with opening ceremonies Saturday morning at Marcus Field in Ranson.
The league, according to vice president Jimmy Pierson, was started in 1988 by Kenny Anders and him, both longtime advocates of youth sports and recreation in their home county.
JCYFL began with 74 participants at Leetown Park. That number included football players and cheerleaders, Pierson said. Taking the field during the Saturday’s opening this year were nearly 300 players and cheerleaders. The players, making up nine teams of varying ages, are part of the Eastern Panhandle’s Tri-County League and will play not only their local competitors but those from Berkeley and Morgan counties as well.
Over the years, Pierson said, the league has served first the youth but also the community as a whole.
“We have given over $10,000 in scholarships since the league started,” Pierson said. Those who play in the league, either as a football player or a cheerleader, are eligible to apply for the Kenny Anders Scholarship.
In addition, Pierson said, the league has held various fundraisers over the years to assist specific needs of players or their families. They helped a player purchase a diabetes dog and helped a family who lost their home in a fire.
“We easily have donated $100,000 or more,” Pierson said. “We are a family, and that’s what families do.”
Pierson complimented the city of Ranson, among others, for its continued support of the local football program. He also commended the Marcus family who donated the field that is home to the league.
“There are cities that don’t have the facilities that we are blessed with,” he said. “We could never do this without the support of the City and the community.”
David Brown, who serves as the current president of the league, said that he has been involved since 2004 when his daughters started cheering. He took over the president role from Pierson two years ago.
“For as long as Jimmy did it,” Brown laughed, “I don’t know if I could do it. The phone calls with problem after problem wears you out, but I do it because I believe in the program.”
Brown went on to say that his favorite part of the season is seeing the kids come back year after year.
“Having them call me ‘Coach Brown’ even when I’m not their coach anymore,” he said. “makes it worth it.”
Brown is joined in his efforts by his wife, Judy, who serves as secretary/treasurer for the league. She also heads up the cheerleader division.
When asked why she does what she does, she replied, “I ask myself that often.” She went on to share that she got involved when her girls joined the cheerleading squad.
“They have aged out,” she laughed. “But I guess I haven’t.”
Rounding out the leadership team at JCYFL is football director Todd Lutman who spends hours with Brown and Pierson preparing the field for play. He also keeps track of the nearly many coaches and managers in the football program.
Thanks to many donations, the enrollment fees for the league have been kept lower than many leagues. Through the fee, each player is insured and receives equipment for the season. Pierson shared that gate admissions and concession proceeds help keep the league self-sufficient.
The fees, he said, cover equipment, insurance, uniforms, rental of practice spaces around the county and all other financial costs of the league.
Games kicked off following the opening ceremonies where David Brown welcomed all to the new season, encouraging all to respect the players, coaches, officials and the field and grounds.
This year marked the tenth year of play at Marcus Field.