Community football leaders plan for the future
Football has been a longstanding form of competition for local communities in America, but in the past few years, the numbers of young people signing up to play has begun to dwindle. Whether youth are finding other forms of activity or whether they’re no longer motivated to play, many football organizers and coaches agree that something needs to be done.
To help revive an interest in and love for the game, as well as to develop continuity in coaching methods, officials involved with youth of all ages in Jefferson County have made a pact to work together and strengthen the football program, from peewee to high school.
“We need to start building the program young and build dedication and pride,” said Jimmy Pierson, a Jefferson County Youth Football League leader.
During a recent meeting, JCYFL leaders and officers, as well as middle and high school coaches, agreed its goal is to grow the football program together, within the county as a whole.
“We can talk and find commonality in technique, in terminology-that can be shared,” Washington High School head football coach Glen Simpson said.
The group laid out the intention of fostering a love of the game at the youth football level, where coaches teach initial fundamentals of the game. As the players move through the program, leaders will build on skills and techniques using the same strategies and terminology as the middle and high school coaches.
Middle and high school coaches also agreed that shared strategies are key in building the programs and creating excellent teams for the highest level of competition. This will help grow a more talented and dedicated group of players at all levels.
“This is a gentlemen’s agreement between schools,” Pierson said. “And the youth football league supports it and will do everything we can to help.”
The coaches agreed that, beginning at the youth league level, players will be placed on teams with the goal of building a strong Jefferson County football program. Players from Harpers Ferry Middle School’s and Charles Town Middle School’s districts will be channeled toward Washington High School, while those affiliated with Shepherdstown Middle and Wildwood Middle schools will be channeled toward Jefferson High. While those placements might fluctuate, the idea is central to building a continuation of teaching from the youngest level to the highest.
“We have already decided to rename teams and get new colors to correspond with the high school colors,” Pierson said. “This will help build pride in those players who want to move up to wear a Patriot jersey or a Cougar jersey.”
The model of growing youth through the program is one that neighboring Berkeley County has used with much success.
The group also discussed the return of freshman football to the high school lineup. Since Washington High School opened, freshman football hasn’t been part of the high school program, only junior varsity and varsity.
Jefferson High School Football Coach Craig Hunter said he has broached the subject of reinstating the freshman program; however, nobody has held official talks or made any decisions.
Whatever may come of those discussions, the officials with the JCYFL say they’re willing to partner in any way possible to make the program stronger, including making Marcus Field behind Weis available for potential freshman games.
The group will continue communicating and sharing information to build the program from the ground up. Its long-term goal is fostering a continued love of the game and growing players for success.