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2 7 Kickoff with scott Hallenbeck “i Played”
issue 8 • winter 2008-09
features 4 USA Football: Heisman Helper 11 Jonathan Ogden Joins USA Football 12 Committed
More than two dozen usa football members contribute to new advisory committees By Rashad Mulla
15 Meet a usa football staffer: Damone Jones 23 Meet a usa football Board Member: Jon Butler 30 football facts, stats & figures 32 what football taught Me Sgt. Tommy Rieman, United States Army
usa football Member charlie ward teaching a game He loves By Steve Alic
8 Coaching Country
top Prep coaches from nine states lead usa football’s 2009 Junior national team By Steve Alic
28 World’s top national teams eager for Canton journey
six nations earn berths for eight-country ifaf Junior world championship field By Steve Alic
14 game changer: usa football’s coaching education By Rashad Mulla 16 takeaway-giveaway with tom & larry By Tom Bass & Larry Canard 17 “what if?”: in-game coaching scenarios 18 getting an angle on the Ball carrier By Tim Polzer
HealtH & fitness
19 what football Has taught My son: Joe laurinaitis By Nicole Lukosius
20 celebrating Your season, regardless of record 21 usa football regional Managers 22 Meet a usa football Member: chad Blomgren
usa football conducted two Player academies in 2008 (above). the three-day camps for players aged 9-14 will be held in at least 10 cities nationwide this summer.
Photo by Shawn hubbard
24 off-season training important for officials By Dave McMahon 26 season in rewind By Rashad Mulla 27 Quick-Hitter grid Thoughts from USA Football Officiating Members
Photo by Paul Pollard, inset photo by sporting news/ZuMa Press/icon sMi
dear readers, like a favorite meal, after completing a football season, we sit back, reflect and appreciate how great it was. football people don’t sit for long, though. you – the coaches, league administrators and game officials who make this team-first value-filled game our country’s favorite sport – are already working toward next year. and uSa football is committed to be your lead blocker. together we savor the sound of buckling chinstraps to prepare for our greatest year to date. uSa football will host more exciting training events than ever before in 2009; almost 120 of them, in fact. coming in ’09 is america’s first national team in the sport composed of high school seniors (pgs. 8-10) taking part in football’s first world championship with national teams from four continents in canton, ohio (pg. 28). This issue of USA Football Magazine holds insight and faces of dozens of uSa football members – a membership which now stretches across all 50 states and washington, d.c. among this proud football crowd is 1993 Heisman trophy winner charlie ward, who today is a high school head football coach in Houston. also, learn about the 27 members on pages 12-13 who comprise uSa football’s three new committees, established to help steer our programs and resources to best serve you. find out from the dad of ohio State linebacker James laurinaitis (pg. 19) what football has taught his son. we’re also proud to share the football story of operation iraqi freedom veteran Sgt. tommy rieman (pg. 32). beyond these pages, uSa football’s regional managers and office staff is better equipped than ever to serve you as we’ve expanded our regions from six to eight (pg. 21). contact your regional manager and ask how he can help you gain an edge or strengthen your league. and you’re only a toll-free call (1-877-5-football) or a couple of mouse clicks away from our non-profit office at usafootball.com. Here’s to a tremendous and happy 2009 for you, your family and the game that inspires us while building tomorrow’s leaders. Sincerely,
Chairman Jack kemp Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck
Usa football editorial staff
Managing Editor Steve alic Contributors: tom baSS, larry canard, nicole lukoSiuS, dave mcmaHon, raSad mulla, tim polzer To contact USA Football: (703) 918-0007
traction media staff
Publisher rudy J. klancnik Editorial Director tim polzer Designer william bridgefortH Traction Media Editorial Offices 7115 Tartan Trl. Garland, TX 75044 Tractionmedia@aol.com Editorial Department Phone (972) 896-8006
Scott Hallenbeck uSa football executive director
Custom Publishing (972) 898-8585
USA Football Magazine is published by Traction Media, LLC©. All rights reserved. Traction Media does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Publisher assumes no responsibility for return of unsolicited manuscripts or art. No part of this magazine may be reprinted or otherwise duplicated without the written permission of the editor.
2 USA Football Magazine
Sporting newS/ZUMA preSS/icon SMi
USA Football Member Charlie Ward Teaching a Game He Loves
By Steve Alic
SA Football members reside in all 50 states. Differentiated by their backgrounds, they are united by a passion for America’s favorite sport. They are auto mechanics, doctors, plumbers, business owners and, uh, (ahem) … Heisman Trophy winners. Charlie Ward, winner of the 1993 Heisman Trophy and former Florida State University quarterback, employs his USA Football coaching membership as varsity head coach of the Westbury Christian Wildcats in Houston. “USA Football A superbly gifted athlete has given me in several sports, his present calling took him by surprise. an opportunity “I didn’t think I’d be a coach, to learn how to but I’m enjoying it – it’s been very put together a rewarding,” said Ward, who just finished his first season as a head game plan and a football coach after serving as an practice plan.” assistant in 2007. Ward spent time on usafootball.com last January to purchase his membership and struck a friendship with USA Football Regional Manager Deno Campbell. “I never thought I’d be able to teach someone what I did, but God gave me the opportunity to do so and share my experiences with young guys.” In addition to winning the Heisman and helping the Seminoles earn their first national championship in 1993, the Thomasville, Ga., native was drafted as a pitcher by the Milwaukee Brewers (1993) and New York Yankees (1994) and is an accomplished tennis player. Ward, however, made his mark as a professional athlete during a 12-year NBA career. He was drafted in the first round (No. 26) of the 1994 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks, led by legendary coach Pat Riley. A fan of all sports, Ward points out football’s attributes faster than his early ’90s quarterback draws.
“No sport beats football when it comes to teamwork,” he said. “If one guy is off, the whole team is off. It’s like your body – if your thumb hurts, your whole body hurts; it’s all connected.” The son of a football, basketball and golf coach (Charlie Ward, Sr.) and pupil of Florida State’s legendary Bobby Bowden, Ward values the coaching training he’s gained from USA Football.
The Heisman Trophy won by USA Football Coaching Member Charlie Ward resides in the public library of his hometown, Thomasville, Ga. Ward’s comments about what winning the Heisman has meant to him:
“It’s a prestigious award and it was great to have such a good team around me which helped me to win it. At the time you win that honor, it doesn’t mean as much right then as it does over the course of your life. When I go to a Heisman event now, that’s how I’m recognized, as a Heisman Trophy winner. It’s provided me a number of opportunities. It’s been a blessing.”
“USA Football has given me an opportunity to learn how to put together a game plan and a practice plan,” he said. “I gather information from the website and the membership web page. I go there to get insight from coaches who’ve done it before. “And there are a lot of perks. We got our Captain’s Pack for the kids – that’s big for their morale. Our team captains have a USA Football “C” patch on their jerseys. We’re using the helmet stickers we received in it, too, so the resources I’ve gained are valuable as well. My
involvement [with USA Football] is helping me learn.” Whether or not you’ve won a Heisman Trophy, Ward recommends every coach to join USA Football’s huddle. “The training at the coaching schools and the DVDs offered online are backed by some of the best minds in football that you probably couldn’t get elsewhere without having to pay a lot of money,” said Ward. “These things help you teach how to block and tackle, how to play positions you never played. And you get a chance to meet other coaches, too, and talk football. That gives you an edge.”
Charlie Ward was contacted by the Kansas City Chiefs on Day Two of the 1994 NFL Draft to learn if he’d be interested in backing up eventual Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana. Ward could not commit to the NFL until learning where he’d be selected in the NBA Draft two months later. When the New York Knicks made him their first-round pick (No. 26 overall), he decided to play pro basketball.
Did You Know?
Ray Stubblebine/icon SMi
Charlie Ward and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers standout running back Warrick Dunn were roommates while playing for Florida State in 1993. Ward and Dunn, then a senior and a freshman, respectively, established a friendship when Dunn needed it most. The freshman’s mother had recently been shot and killed in the line of duty as a police officer. Dunn recently shared his thoughts about Ward with Warrick Dunn USA Football Magazine:
Heisman-like USA Football Members
Is there another Heisman Trophy winner lurking among USA Football members? A scan of our member list revealed members named Marcus Allen and Tim Brown. Brown, a youth coach in the Mid-Maryland League in Mount Airy, Md., said that having the same name as a Heisman Trophy winner was always a positive thing, before adding, “How do you know I am not the real Tim Brown?”
Tim Brown, 1987 Heisman Trophy Winner
“At that particular time in my life I needed someone who could help me keep it together. I was dealing with a lot. He took me under his wing and really just taught me the little things like being a professional and being humble. Just the way he treated people and how he accepted everyone on the team really rubbed off on me. He taught me to always be your best. “I think he’d be an excellent coach. He’ll teach discipline, technique. He is going to have a sound football team that is going to execute and play well and he will teach them to be men and the right way to play the game.”
6 USA Football Magazine
USA Football’s national “I Played” campaign has reached more than 100 million Americans through television coverage on CBS, ESPN, FOX, NBC and NFL Network this season. Since “I Played” was kicked off on August 3 during the NBC telecast of the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, several hundred thousand usafootball.com unique visitors have read or submitted an “I Played” story. To share your football story or to read those sent to USA Football, visit usafootball.com. Below are excerpts of recent “I Played” story submissions.
Volunteer Firefighter & Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) McCordsville, Ind. I started playing football when I was in the fifth grade. It has always been a passion. By playing the game through high school, I got the opportunity to learn how to work as a team and build friendships and bonds. I carried this with me when I joined the Marine Corps. I remembered the three-a-days in high school and the conditioning practices. My high school football memories inspired me and helped me get through boot camp. After serving my term, I moved to Indiana where I had the opportunity to play semi-pro ball for a few years. The game gave me an appreciation for life and the freedom that we all enjoy in this wonderful country. Traveling from town to town in our own vehicles in a caravan and taking in the best of football in the Midwest – these are memories I will never forget. Football taught me that we are as strong as we choose to be and we can accomplish anything we put our minds to.
College Student Lake Forest, Calif. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” -John Wooden Being visually impaired, I applied Wooden’s phrase in whatever I do. Football has taught me that anything is possible and anyone’s dreams can come true if one puts forth the effort. After informing my family that I wanted to play football for my high school (El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif., 45 miles south of Los Angeles), I trained for the sport. After six months of training, I was ready to speak to varsity head coach Jake Haley. Coach Haley and his staff agreed that I could play and I was assigned to right guard – this was all during my senior year. Coach Steve Hohl, my offensive line coach, came up with a plan where the center would give me a direction such as, “on, in or out” to direct my blocks. I attended every practice with the goal to play in a game. That wish came true. I got to play in a PAT and our last offensive series. It was so amazing to hear the crowd rise up to chant my name and feel my teammates’ support.
Administrative Assistant Elizabeth, N.J. I was a tomboy growing up. Football was something that I never got to play with an organized team, except for flag football when I was 11 years old. I always played tackle football in the yard with my brother and the other kids in the neighborhood. When I finished college, I moved to New York City. I soon found out that I had Type I Diabetes – insulin-dependent diabetes. The symptoms never showed up until I stopped participating in sports. My doctors believed that I probably had diabetes since I was very young. I started exercising as much as I did when I was in college and high school. I took up long-distance running and found it mind-clearing. Soon after my first marathon, I was on a Web site for the Washington Redskins. They were advertising Washington’s “other” football team, a women’s tackle football team. There were other women that loved football as much as I did? I thought, “If they can do it, so can I.” I have now been playing women’s professional football for two years. Always go after your dreams, no matter what they are, no matter what your physical attributes.
Top Prep Coaches from Nine States Lead USA Football’s 2009 Junior National Team
By Steve Alic
ore than 1.13 million young men play high school football in the United States. Forty-five of them will play on USA Football’s 2009 Junior National Team. Ten men will coach them. Led by Chuck Kyle of Cleveland St. Ignatius High School, Team USA’s coaching staff possesses more than 1,500 prep victories, 31 state championships and 155 seasons of high school head coaching experience. More than 30 of their players have played in the NFL and hundreds of others have advanced to college football. “I really feel honored to be part of this tremendous group of coaches and lead it,” said Kyle, an English teacher who has guided his Wildcats to three “National Championship” seasons (USA Today 1989, ’93; National Prep Poll 1993, ’95) and nine Ohio large-school state titles in the past 20 seasons. “All of these men bring a litany of accolades, but there’s far more to them than awards and win totals. “I’m most impressed – and proud – of how these coaches challenge and guide their teams to reach their potential as student-athletes and young men. They share uncommon abilities to prepare, inspire and connect with their players.” USA Football’s Junior National Team is America’s first in the sport composed of top high school football student-athletes from the country’s 2009 graduating class. The team will compete among an eight-nation field spanning four continents in the 2009 International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Junior World Championship in Canton, Ohio’s historic Fawcett Stadium. Team USA’s 10-man staff features two offensive line coaches to quickly prepare blocking schemes for varying defensive fronts with two or three days of rest between its three games in Canton.
Shawn wood / Studio 7
Head Coach Chuck Kyle USA Football Junior National Team
Cleveland St. Ignatius High School, Head Coach Kyle became his high school alma mater’s head coach in 1983 and owns a 258-57-1 (.818) record and a state playoff ledger of 51-11 (.823). St. Ignatius’s nine Division I state titles under Kyle are the most of any Ohio school since the state’s playoff format began in 1972. The Wildcats have advanced to Ohio’s state playoffs in each of the past 21 seasons.
West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley High School, Offensive Coordinator A head varsity football coach in Iowa since 1976, Swenson owns a career coaching record of 265-85 (.757). Swenson, inducted into the Iowa Football Coaches Hall of Fame (1993), has led his teams to a state playoff berth in each of the past 22 seasons en route to four state championships, including three with Valley High School (’02, ’03, ’05).
Wayne County (Miss.) High School, Wide Receivers A veteran of 16 seasons as a high school head coach, Boyles has guided his teams to five state championships – three of those five with his Wayne County War Eagles. A high school head coach of current Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell [Taylorsville (Miss.) H.S.], Boyles has a Magnolia State prep head coaching record of 184-21 (.898).
Ann Arbor (Mich.) Pioneer High School, Defensive Line Team USA’s youngest coach holds 11 seasons of experience on collegiate and high school levels. Gold has served as defensive line coach at Wayne State University (2002) and Grand Valley State University (2003-04), helping lead GVSU to a Division II NCAA National Championship in 2003. USA Football’s Gold is the brother of Ian Gold, the former Denver Broncos linebacker.
Miami Christopher Columbus High School, Defensive Backs The Indiana University alum has led his Explorers to district titles in 2001, ’03, ’04, ’05 and ’07, including undefeated regular seasons in ’05 and ’07. An assistant coach in the upcoming 2009 Under Armour All-American Game, Merritt was a head football coach in Germany for four years, earning three Euro Bowl Championships and a 51-12-2 (.800) record.
Cincinnati St. Xavier High School, Defensive Coordinator Specht took over as head coach for the Bombers in 2003 and has quickly earned two Ohio Division I Coach of the Year honors (’05, ’07). In his six years in leading the Bombers’ football program, Specht has attained a sparkling 55-9 (.859) record and two large-school Ohio state championships (’05, ’07).
Bothell (Wash.) High School, Running Backs Bothell High’s head coach for the past eight seasons, Bainter has directed his Seattle-area program to state championship games in 2006 and 2007. Having just completed his 12th season as a high school head coach, Bainter has earned King County’s Coach of the Year honor four times. Bothell H.S. has claimed four of its conference’s past nine titles.
Lake Balboa (Calif.) Birmingham High School, Offensive Line In 2000, Croson inherited a Birmingham program that was a combined 3-17 from 1998-99 and had not captured its league title since 1969. Croson proceeded to lead the school to league championships in 2000, ’01, ’03, ’06 and ’07. The Patriots earned Los Angeles City titles in 2002, ’04, ’06 and ’07, finishing 2007 in the USA Today “Super 25” national rankings.
Chicago Mount Carmel High School, Offensive Line In 25 years as Mount Carmel’s head coach, Lenti has led the Caravan to nine Illinois state championships and 13 state title game appearances. Lenti, one of two Team USA offensive line coaches (Ed Croson), was the prep head coach of current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and has led Mount Carmel to 23 consecutive state playoff berths.
Dallas Carter High School, Linebackers Wilson owns a career head coaching mark of 226-78-4 (.740). He led John Tyler H.S., located in Tyler, Texas, to the state’s Class 5A State Championship in 1994 and directed Paris (Texas) H.S. to the 4A State Championship in 1988. A 17-time district coach of the year, Wilson earned Texas’ AP High School Coach of the Year honor in 1989 and ’95.
COACH Chuck Kyle Steve Specht Gary Swenson
POSITION Head Coach Defensive Coordinator Offensive Coordinator Running Backs Wide Receivers Offensive Line Defensive Line Offensive Line Defensive Backs Linebackers
HIGH SCHOOL Cleveland St. Ignatius Cincinnati St. Xavier West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley Bothell (Wash.) Wayne County (Miss.) Lake Balboa (Calif.) Birmingham Ann Arbor (Mich.) Pioneer Chicago Mount Carmel Miami Christopher Columbus Dallas Carter
Donovan McNabb on Frank Lenti
“Coach Lenti was a great coach who taught all of us how to play the game in the purest form. He taught us to outwork others, to support our teammates, and to have pride in ourselves and our school. “If I were asked to be a part of a national team competing against the world’s best football teams, I would cherish that opportunity. First, it would be an honor to be considered one of the best in the country. Second, to be able to compete for your country against the best in the world would be great. The pride and support of the whole country would be an adrenaline rush.” – Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who played under Frank Lenti at Chicago Mount Carmel H.S.
Tom Bainter Marcus Boyles Ed Croson Jeremy Gold Frank Lenti Chris Merritt Allen Wilson
USA Football Magazine recently reached three of the more than 30 former high school players of USA Football’s Junior National Team coaches who went on to NFL careers.
Chris Hovan on Chuck Kyle
“Listen, don’t talk. If he is coaching, you listen. Just take it all in because the man is a wealth of knowledge. He’s a great coach who cares about his players and is pretty much the best you are going to find in this sport.”
– Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Chris Hovan on Chuck Kyle, who he played for at Cleveland St. Ignatius H.S.
“Coach Boyles is the type of coach who will get the best out of you. He really helped me improve as a player and he will do the same for these players. He is the type of coach who respects you as a person and expect s that same respect in return. “If I were in high school again, I would play for the U.S. National team. I’d want to go up agains t some of the best players in the world and show what I can do agains t that competition.” – Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell, who played under Marcus Boyles at Taylorsville (Miss.) H.S.
Jason Campbell on Marcus Boyles
10 USA Football Magazine
USA Football Shop making a difference
Interested in a one-man USA Football Coaching or Officiating School from your favorite chair? Well, dream it and you can do it. Whether you’re seeking coaching resources or the latest in football apparel, enter the electric huddle at USA Football Shop (shop.usafootball.com). Here you’ll find USA Football’s revolutionary Coaches Handbook, a library of 11 USA Football coaching and officiating DVDs – produced in conjunction with American Football Monthly Magazine – and more. Damon Huntzberry of Smithsburg, Md., owns his own construction company, but still finds time to coach kids in grades 5-8. He was looking for something new to add to his practice plan, so he bought DVDs on practice planning, fundamentals and drills, coaching offense and coaching defense.
USA Footb all Shop is open 24/ 7 at shop.usafo otball.com .
“The kids hear the same sermons over and over, and the DVDs give you some ideas that will get their attention,” he said. “I’d definitely recommend them to other coaches. I’m going to give them to the other coaches on the team.” Scott Tutterow of Winston-Salem, N.C., a commercial airline pilot and five-year high school football officiating veteran, has sharpened his skills with USA Football in his DVD player. “I had not played football in such a long time, I want to see what coaches are teaching to be better informed on what I might see during a game – that’s why I got all of the coaching DVDs,” said Tutterow. “This allowed me to get back into the swing of things and helped me look for the right keys. I watch the different formations so I can understand what’s going on when I see it live. The DVDs are great.”
Jonathan Ogden Joins USA Football
By Nicole lukosius
Jonathan Ogden may not be out on the football field every Sunday anymore, but America’s favorite sport is still a big part of who he is. Still inspired by a game he’s loved all his life, Ogden recently joined USA Football in a spokesperson role. “I’m excited to join the USA Football family,” Ogden said at the time of his announcement. “Playing this game for more than 20 years, it opened doors to life-long friendships, a tremendous education, a Super Bowl ring and more. “But I didn’t get there by myself. Along with my parents, I had coaches to guide me, encouraging me to excel. The lessons I learned playing football will stay with me for life, and I’m proud to share them as a USA Football contributor.” The 11-time NFL All-Star and former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle retired in June 2008 after taking the field for 12 tremendous seasons. As a USA Football spokesperson, Ogden will promote the independent non-profit as a guest on sports radio talk shows across the country. Among his most discussed topics will be USA Football’s Junior National Team (see pages 8-10) and the IFAF Junior World Championship (page 28). Ogden also will appear frequently at usafootball.com. Ogden was named college football’s best offensive lineman in 1995 while at UCLA and was added to the Ravens’ ring of honor at M&T Bank Stadium before a home game this past October.
“We’re proud to have Jonathan join USA Football,” said USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck. “Teamwork, sacrifice and responsibility are woven into football’s fabric. Those qualities are found in how Jonathan played the sport at every level. His love for the game melded with his integrity and leadership are a great fit for USA Football.”
cott Neibert knows a thing or two about football rules. The Jefferson County (Mo.) Youth Association coaching director has helped write rulebooks for two leagues and has 18 years of coaching experience. This is the resume of one of USA Football’s 27 committee members. USA Football and its regional managers recently established three committees composed of members in all eight USA Football regions. Comprised of eight-to-10 members, the committees share insight and help guide USA Football in shaping
“Any time we can get coaches and administrators together to exchange ideas, it’s better for us as individuals and better for the leagues. It’s an opportunity to make some suggestions and recommendations for USA Football, based on our own personal experiences.”
John Manna, president of the Heartland Youth Football League, Omaha, Neb., Youth Football Coaches Advisory Committee resources and ideas in areas of coaching, league administration and rules. Neibert was named to USA Football’s Rules Committee, which provides insight on youth football-related rules and standards, such as the composition of a USA Football Rulebook and recommended national playing standards. “After 18 years of coaching youth football, I have an idea of what rules have to be specialized,” Neibert said. “This committee will work well to strike a balance. Being exposed to what other people do and have done can only help.” Kevin Bushnell, executive president of the Arizona Competitive Youth Football League, accepted a position on the USA Football Administrators Advisory Committee. Bushnell brings 10 years of involvement within his 73-team, 2,500-youngster league, which spans more than 20 Arizona communities. The Administrators Advisory Committee, featuring commissioners from leagues of all sizes, evaluates and reviews USA Football resources made available to youth football league administrators. These resources include online education courses, league volunteer background
“Instead of reinventing the wheel, we can get together and make youth football better. I can use the information that I get from all these different league representatives.”
Leroy Hollins, founder and director of Louisiana Youth Football, Youth Football Rules Committee
USA FootbAll AdminiStRAtoRS AdviSoRy committee
NAME Kevin Bushnell CITY, STATE Chandler, Ariz. Paisley, Fla. Georgetown, Mass. St. Charles, Mo. Biloxi, Miss. Columbia, Md. Duluth, Ga. Bellevue, Wash. Blue Island, Ill.
USA FootbAll RUleS committee
Leroy Hollins Dean Layman Don Lindberger Mark Meana Jerron Moore Ben Narramore Scott Neibert Tom Rau Jason Soistman Horace West
Baton Rouge, La. Columbus, Ind. Harleysville, Pa. Vienna, Va. Boise, Idaho San Diego, Calif. Arnold, Mo. Grand Blanc, Mich. Glen Burnie, Md. Davenport, Fla.
YOUTH FOOTBALL ORGANIZATION Arizona Competitive Youth Football League DeLand Youth Football League - Pop Warner Cape Ann Youth Football League Gateway Football League St. Martin Youth Football Association Mid Maryland Youth Football and Cheer Gwinnett Football League Greater Eastside Junior Football Association Metro Youth Football League
Bob Gnoza Tom Lansing Dwayne LeGrand Mike Milani Erik Richards John Veentjer Jeff Zylman
12 USA Football Magazine
More than two dozen USA Football members contribute to new advisory committees
By Rashad Mulla
“I [joined] the committee to improve coaching education and the overall experience that leagues should offer to today’s youth. The sharing of ideas and experiences hopefully will help to improve youth football all over the country.”
Bob Gnoza, vice commissioner of the Cape Ann Youth Football League, Georgetown, Mass., Youth Football Administrators Advisory Committee
check subsidies, coaching insurance and football equipment grants. “A lot of leagues are where we were ten years ago,” Bushnell said. “I’d like to pass my experience along.”
The Youth Coaches Advisory Committee includes Keith Jupiter of Baton Rouge, La., an accomplished coach at the Scotlandville Sports Academy. Jupiter’s experience and emphasis on character and discipline will benefit USA Football’s members. “I have always been interested in helping kids better themselves, whether it be through football, character building, academic progress reports or discipline,” Jupiter said. “Everyone has to find a little time in their day to help kids.” The Youth Coaches Advisory Committee tests and provides feedback on USA Football’s coaching resources, which include computer-animated training courses, practice planner software, a 3-D online drills library and more. All three committees have already held meetings to discuss coaching resources, administrative strategies and rules. “I think we’ve got a good team here,” Bushnell said. “The committee members encompass many different viewpoints. We’re from large, association-based leagues and small startup leagues.”
“I like the mission, I like the approach, and I think it’s important for youth football to establish some common ground.”
Jerron Moore, executive director of Boise Noon Optimist Youth Football, Boise, Idaho, Youth Football Rules Committee
“I feel like I’ve been given the opportunity to make a difference. I’ve met coaches from all over the country and used their insight and recommendations.”
Dwayne LeGrand, president of the St. Martin Youth Football Association, Biloxi, Miss., Youth Football Administrators Advisory Committee
YOUTH FOOTBALL ORGANIZATION
Louisiana Youth Football League Columbus Police Athletic Activities League Harleysville Eagles Youth Football Fairfax County Youth Football Boise Noon Optimist Youth Football Palomar Pop Warner Conference Jefferson County Youth Association Michigan High School Athletic Association Champion Officials Group Mid-Florida Football and Cheerleading Conference
USA FootbAll YoUth coAcheS AdviSorY committee
NAME Gus Bernal Rod Dollar Shelby Goldblatt Terry Hyde Keith Jupiter John Manna Christos Spirou Ron Word CITY, STATE Ventura, Calif. Baselton, Ga. Carmel, Ind. Vancouver, Wash. Baton Rouge, La. Omaha, Neb. Long Island, N.Y. Nashville, Tenn. Ventura Buccaneers
YOUTH FOOTBALL ORGANIZATION Mill Creek Athletic Association Carmel Dads Club Tackle Football Clark County Youth Football Scotlandville Sports Academy Heartland Youth Football League Oceanside Stallions Football West Nashville Broncos Football
USA Football’s Certified Coaching Education Program Scoring Big By Rashad Mulla
oungsters aren’t the only ones in youth football gaining knowledge about the game. USA Football’s Certified Coaching Education Program (C.C.E.P.) is helping America’s youth football coaches hit the virtual classroom. USA Football’s C.C.E.P. is a multilevel online coaching course accessible at usafootball.com, bolstered with computer animation and audio narration. It encompasses coaching philosophy, practice planning, communication with players and parents and methods of football fundamentals instruction, including proper blocking and tackling techniques. Having just completed its first season, USA Football’s C.C.E.P. drew coaches from 44 states and Washington, D.C. Youth league administrators from large, mid-sized and small leagues mandated the program for coaches in their organization. Dean Layman, second-year director of the Columbus (Ind.) Police Athletic Activities League, enrolled all 56 of the league’s head coaches and assistant coaches in the C.C.E.P. Dean Layman He requires the coaches to finish the course’s second level, which features 26 more quizzes than Level One (11 quizzes), employing greater sophistication and training. “We strive to teach fundamentals of the game at this stage,” said Layman, whose 10-year-old league serves more than 600 players and 40 teams. “All of our coaches and assistant coaches now have a foundation with which to work on.” “The C.C.E.P. has allowed our coaches to gain the basic knowledge and understanding of the game,” said David Baldwin, a board member of Chamberlain
(S.D.) Youth Football League. “It gives our coaches a wealth of knowledge.” Baldwin’s league, which includes eight head coaches, registered all eight for the course’s first level. According to Baldwin, the C.C.E.P. helped his DaviD BaLDwin program’s coaches, who are the face and backbone of the organization. Eloy Bonuz, president of the Calhoun County (Texas) Youth Football League, enrolled all 18 of his league’s head coaches and assistant coaches in the C.C.E.P. “Several coaches were teaching techniques they eLoy Bonuz were taught as players years ago,” Bonuz said. “The USA Football course is up-to-the-minute with proper technique and fundamentals.”
“Youth league commissioners and coaches benefit from resources like the C.C.E.P.,” said USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck. “They are remarkably dedicated volunteers who love this game and want kids to learn it and gain from its team-first values. We’re proud to provide coaches a stateof-the-art training program. There are always more yards to go, but we’re moving the chains.” Level One of the C.C.E.P. takes approximately two hours to complete and coaches must receive a cumulative score of at least 80 percent on its 11 quizzes. Level Two features 26 more quizzes and greater sophistication. Upon course completion, coaches receive a USA Football coaching certificate and have their name added to usafootball. com’s national coach registry. USA Football has also built a re-certification test for C.C.E.P. graduates to stay sharp next season. To learn more about USA Football’s online coaching curriculum and state-of-theart coaching resources, visit usafootball.com.
health & fitness
“USA Football’s coaching education program has given me and the rest of the board a higher level of trust in the coaches we’ve brought on,” said Patrick Kapus, commissioner of the Manassas (Va.) Youth Football League. “It gives the public and the parents a higher comfort level too, knowing that the coaches are prepared.”
“After attending a presentation by USA Football, we decided the C.C.E.P. would be a good opportunity for our coaches to learn and advance on their own time,” said Abram Thalhofer, a league administrator for Whatcom County (Wash.) Youth Football. “And instead of asking how to do something, with [the C.C.E.P.] they can always go back and review.”
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Meet a USA Football staffer
You joined USA Football’s staff this past May. What appealed to you most when considering the position? The chance to work for an organization with a goal of improving young people’s lives through sports. Sports have a special, powerful way of positively impacting lives. What are your primary duties as USA Football’s marketing manager? To help us reach the right people – coaches, officials and administrators – and make sure they know what USA Football offers them.
school because Philadelphia didn’t have unlimited-weight leagues. I was a big kid.
How do you enjoy your time away from the office? I spend a lot of time with my wife and take in the many things that Washington, D.C., has to offer – movies, music, museums. And reading and lifting. What are your goals for USA Football in 2009? More than anything else, I want to see our Junior National Team win the gold medal in Canton, Ohio, next summer. With players, families and coaches from four continents, the IFAF Junior World Championship stands among the most historic events football will have ever seen. And playing the games in the shadow of the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be fantastic. I’m sure the ghosts of people like Jim Thorpe, Paul Brown, George Halas and others will proudly peer into Fawcett Stadium to see young men from eight countries playing their sport.
What does football mean to you? Football has been very good to me. It paid for my college education, my grad school education and introduced me to my best friends. It toughened me up during my
Strength of Schedule
USA Football will conduct nearly 120 training events in 34 states throughout 2009 for coaches, league commissioners, game officials and youth players. USA Football Coaching Schools, Officiating Schools, Officiating Seminars and three-day Player Academies for players aged 9-14 will prepare thousands for next season. Seats for State Player Academies Leadership Forums, events designed for league administrators, are offered on an invite-only basis. If your league has not participated in past State Forums and would like to do so this year, please reach your USA Football Regional Manager (see pg. 21). View the 2009 events schedule at usafootball.com by rolling your mouse over tabs found on the homepage titled, “Coaches,” State Forums “Officials” and “Players.” Easy online registration Coaching Schools for USA Football events will be available through usafootball.com by New Year’s Day.
Photo by brian Feener
You earned a football scholarship to Penn State. What did you learn from Coach Joe Paterno? You’re never as bad as you think you are when you’re down, and you’re never as good as you think you are when you’re up. We were taught to remain as even-keeled as possible in everything we do, remain humble and work our rear-ends off.
formative years and is largely responsible for the type of person I am today.
When did you first decide you wanted to play football? When I was 6 and first played in the school yard – it was two-hand touch. I couldn’t play tackle until high
Takeaway-Giveaway wiTh Tom & Larry
Should your best athlete play quarterback?
QB position requires the best athlete under center
By Tom Bass
Gone are the days when the quarterback only had to take the snap and hand the ball to another offensive player in order for your offense to function. Offensive coaches are deviating from the usual offensive formations with not only adjustments in the alignment, but also with the personnel they have in the game. Initially, passing accuracy was the primary requirement for the quarterback. Defenses soon determined that covering the receivers was not the only answer in stopping the passing attack. Putting pressure on the quarterback, defenses learned, also paid great dividends. The goal then became to have a quarterback with much greater athletic skills who could move within the pocket, and move out of the pocket to throw on the move when necessary. The quarterback is required to not only be an accurate passer, but also be a major participant in the running game. The position now demands that you line up your best athlete at the quarterback position if you are to have success running any one of the new hybrid type of offenses. With the use of the Wildcat offense, the quarterback is now asked to line up as a wide receiver, run disciplined pass routes, catch the ball and be an effective blocker. Being your best athlete should never be the only criteria in determining who will be your quarterback. The player needs to be a leader, have the mental ability to understand the offense, possess the physical skills for the position and be mentally tough enough to handle the pressures of the position.
The best athlete can’t be showcased at QB
By Larry Canard
While it is important to have a good athlete playing the quarterback position, I think there are other elements to the position that are more important. First and foremost, the quarterback needs to be smart and mentally tough. At the youth level and beyond, players will forget where to line up and what to do on any given play. The quarterback needs to know and understand what all 11 players are supposed to do. In other words, the quarterback should give you a coach on the field during games. While it is not fair, the quarterback also takes much of the blame when things on offense don’t go well. For this reason, mental toughness is a must. I look for kids who don’t get too excited when things go really well, because that usually means when things go bad they will not get down. They are then able to lead by example. Before the ball is snapped, all eyes are on the quarterback. If he is far and away your best athlete, it becomes difficult to put him in situations in which he can excel. I prefer to take one or two more gifted athletes and balance out the formations with them. I put them in position to receive the ball with fewer defenders to beat. Taking a marginal athlete who is smart and tough and putting him at quarterback to guide more talented skill position players takes the defensive focus off of him. He is thus a more difficult player to defend.
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Tom Bass and Larry Canard combine for more than 50 seasons of coaching on the youth, college and NFL levels and illustrate that there’s more than one way to win a football game. Both contribute to the innovative benefits included within USA Football’s Coaching Membership. Go to usafootball.com today, click the “Membership” button to join the USA Football family and gain more from Tom & Larry.
16 USa Football magazine
By Rashad Mulla
USA Football Coaching Members share in-game decision-making
Robinson: Go for two. I would definitely go
for the win. I’d split the wide receivers way outside, and I’d split the guards to spread everything out. I’d then run a quarterback keeper right up the middle. This gives the quarterback a little more room than usual, because the defensive lineman will line up opposite the offensive linemen. “What If” … you’re up 14-7 with one minute left in the game. The other team has the ball on your 30-yard line with no timeouts. It’s 3rd and 15. Do you play prevent defense or do you aggressively rush the passer? Briggs: I’d send my defense after the quarterback. In my 6-4 defense, I’d send both of the ends in, blitz two linebackers up the middle and give the middle four defensive linemen the benefit of the doubt, whether they want to play the pass or run. This creates more pressure on their quarterback, who already is facing more pressure than the defense. This also creates the possibility of a turnover or sack. If they run a draw or other run play, you still have the pressure. Swieter: Rush the passer. Throughout most of the game, I would have been making the passer make quick decisions. More time can backfire. I see it all the time where the other team will go prevent, give the offense a few yards and hope they don’t give them anymore after that. I’d have a five-defensive back formation, with five linemen and one linebacker. The defensive backs would play coverage, one side of the defensive line would run a stunt rush and the linebacker has the decision to rush the passer or play in coverage. Robinson: I’d play prevent defense. In my situation, we’ve got good speed, and we know they’re going to pass it. The outside linebacker can cover the backs, the defensive backs can play man to man, and anyone off the line can play preventative defense. This will prevent the long ball, and you know they’re either going to pass it or run a trick play. The linebackers that guard the backs can rush the quarterback when he runs outside of the pocket.
Name: Vernon Briggs City, State: Concord, N.H. Youth League: New Hampshire Pop Warner Coaching Experience: 7 years Base Offense: I-Formation Base Defense: 6-4-1 Type of USA Football membership: Coach, Administrator Name: Kenneth swieter City, State: Midwest, Wyo. Youth League: Wyoming High School Activities Association Coaching Experience: 7 years Base Offense: 2 TE, 2 RB Base Defense: 5-2-4 Type of USA Football membership: Coach Name: ed roBinson City: Harrison, Ark. Youth League: Harrison Consolidated Youth Association Coaching Experience: 5 years Base Offense: Wishbone Base Defense: 4-3 Type of USA Football membership: Coach
In youth football, coaches encounter multiple situations that call for quickthinking. Whether you run the West Coast offense or I-Formation, among the beauties of football is that there’s more than one way to win a game. Three USA Football coaching members recently shared their ideas on how they’d attack various in-game scenarios. “What If” … you’re playing in a championship game. There are 10 seconds left in regulation and your offense just scored a touchdown, but you are trailing 7-6. Do you kick the extra point or go for the win with a two-point conversion? Briggs: I’d go for two points. You have to leave it all on the field. With my offense, I believe we can convert a two-point conversion with a quick slant pass or an outside sweep. I pitch it to the running back and have him take it around either edge. Taking the risk shows the team you have confidence in them, and at the end of a championship game, they have to be confident. Swieter: I would talk to my players and see how they feel about the situation. I would want to get their input. All of them strongly agreeing to go for it would convince me to go for two. I’d run my “34 Triple Option” out of a split back formation. I’d fake it to the right side back and have the quarterback run left, with the option to pitch the ball to the left side running back and have him run a sweep.
Getting An Angle On The Ball carrier
Techniques and drills for your defenders
By Tim Polzer
he fastest, most instinctive defenders can have their aggressiveness nullified by a taking the incorrect angle to the ball carrier. A simple cutback or change of pace by a ball carrier can leave the best defensive players grasping at air. So how does a coach teach his players to take the correct pursuit angle to the ball? George Darlington, defensive coordinator of the 2007 USA Football gold-medal Senior National Team and defensive coordinator at The University of GeorGe DarlinGton San Diego, uses a simple technique: have your defenders focus on the ball carrier’s near hip. “When a defender overruns the ball, it’s usually due to a lack of focus,” Darlington said. “Great running backs are able to cut back, so don’t let him. A defender should focus on the ball carrier’s near – or inside – hip. You want your defender thinking, ‘I don’t want that inside hip to come across my body. If I can keep that inside hip in focus, I’ll have a chance to be a good tackler.’” Darlington explains that 90 to 95 percent of the time, a defender will approach a ball carrier from either an outside-in or inside-out angle. For example, a cornerback will usually pursue from outside-in to the middle of the field. Linebackers usually work inside-out and safeties vary, though most ball carriers take them inside-out. Darlington suggests a drill designed to teach defenders how to take the correct flow to the ball carrier as a unit.
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XXX X X XXXX
George Darlington’s Angle Drill
lines up. Left and right corner backs line up two yards outside the cones. Linebackers line up inside and safeties shuffle inside and out. A running back points to where he is running, off-tackle or outside. As the ball carrier walks toward the hole or edge, defenders focus on his inside hip and adjust to the angle. The drill can be simulated slowly enough to obtain the defender’s initial focus before increasing the speed to game speed. ________________________________ Chris Merritt, defensive backs coach for USA Football’s Junior National Team and head coach of Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Fla., offers another drill that does more than teach proper pursuit angles. “We not only use it for teaching the proper angle of pursuit, but we also use it as a conditioning drill,” Merritt said. With his ghost offense set up at its own 10-yard line, Merritt placed additional cones at the following yards lines: 5, 20, 35 and 50. Defenders are assigned specific cones depending on position: The “play side” defensive end, cornerback and outside linebacker are assigned the first cone, defensive tackle, inside linebacker and free safety are assigned the second cone. The “back side” inside linebacker and defensive tackle are given the third cone and “back side” corner, outside linebacker and defensive end are sent to the fourth cone. A coach, standing at shotgun depth, makes the defensive call and simulates the snap. Once the defensive lineman penetrates one yard deep, the coach will point to either direction and the defense will sprint to their assigned cones using the proper pursuit angles. When players arrive at their cones, they “chop” their feet in place until the coach blows the whistle.
Place cones where a tight end normally
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Health & fitness
What Football Has Taught My Son: Joe Laurinaitis
By Nicole lukosius
ames Laurinaitis, a standout middle linebacker at Ohio State University, certainly got his athleticism from his parents. His father, Joe, is a former professional wrestler known as “Animal,” and his mother, Julie, competed as a bodybuilder. Now a senior, James has earned several top honors – the Nagurski Award for the nation’s best defensive player as a sophomore and the Butkus Award for the nation’s best linebacker as a junior – and his father believes there is more to come. No other sport teaches the values of teamwork and dedication like football does, and James’ parents couldn’t be more proud of his success. USA Football Magazine recently spoke with Joe Laurinaitis to learn what football has taught his son.
When did James start playing football?
How has football helped James off the field?
Discipline has helped James in the classroom. He’s an academic All-America, too. His brother, Joe, has always been proud of him, but he’s even more proud of him now because of the way he handles the success he’s had.
How has having two professional athletes as parents influenced him?
You can’t force a person to be a good athlete. Good athletes are born, just like good leaders are born. With James, he has the genetics from his mother and I, but nothing comes short of hard work.
What is your fondest memory of his football career?
Outside of Minneapolis, there is no Pop Warner in the suburbs, so you don’t start playing until fourth grade. But before kindergarten, he’d say, “Throw the ball here,” so it started at a really young age.
What has playing football taught James?
Two years ago against Texas is when James really made his statement. He had an interception, two forced fumbles and 13 tackles. Once when Texas was driving, James forced the tailback to fumble. Donald Washington picked up the ball and headed up the field, and that was a game-changing play. At halftime I said to his mother, “Look at this kid – he belongs here.”
What would you tell other parents about letting their child play football?
The value of teamwork – you have 10 other guys on your team, and whether you’re on offense or defense, you can’t do it all by yourself. When you’re on offense, you need a good line to throw or run the ball. And you need a good defense to stop the other team’s run or pass, so it helped him see how important teamwork was.
I just say support your young athlete. If his buddies are playing football and they’re out in the yard, and your kid is doing well, encourage him to play. The equipment is so good these days, the chances of getting hurt are so slim.
Off-season program for helmets and pads By Rashad Mulla
you determine what new equipment you need to order Matt Althoff, the University of Virginia’s each year. As you check the equipment back in, make a Director of Equipment Room Operations, is visual inspection of it and note anything that is broken or responsible for managing the university’s three needs to be replaced.” student-athlete equipment rooms. In his fifth year It is recommended to recondition helmets and in this position, and his 11th at the university, shoulder pads each year by a certified reconditioner Althoff is a certified member of the Athletic from that National Operating Committee on Standards Equipment Managers Association (AEMA) and Matt althoff for Athletic Equipment. currently serves on its board of directors. Althoff also stresses proper equipment sanitizing and USA Football recently spoke with Althoff to discuss three keys regarding off-season equipment storage and management. storage. Equipment needs to be sanitized and disinfected to help prevent the spread of MRSA and other staph infections. “After retrieving equipment back from each athlete, take an Once this is done, store equipment in a cool, dry room. inventory,” Althoff said. “A good inventory system will also help
Celebrating Your Season, Regardless of Record
responsible Coaches and responsible sport parents redefine success
By DaviD JacoBson, Positive coaching alliance anD ResPonsiBle sPoRts
sportsmanship, not only during the moment, but also at the end of the season when taking stock of all that has happened. Celebrate effort. When young athletes give it their all, week in and week out, on game day, during practices and even off the field, they need to know their effort was noticed and appreciated. That’s what keeps the effort coming in sports, and the more they understand that effort is rewarded, the likelier they are to expend similar effort in school, around the house and in their communities. Celebrate the exceptional efforts these athletes make! Celebrate mistakes. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But we don’t mean celebrate the mistakes themselves. We mean you should celebrate the players who used those mistakes to learn and improve. That will keep them free from the fear of mistakes, which leads to fewer mistakes, so that next season they will more likely have the chance to celebrate scoreboard success! “Celebrating” a losing season may seem hard at first, but it teaches a life lesson that will stay with players: “Just because you didn’t win doesn’t mean all is lost. You’ve strived, learned and improved, and those are their own rewards.” Focus on celebrating all that was good, positive and valuable about the season and your players will be motivated to rejoin the team next year with even greater enthusiasm and dedication. For more valuable tips on Responsible Coaching and Responsible Sport Parenting, visit ResponsibleSports.com. Responsible Sports is a national program that brings together USA Football, Liberty Mutual Insurance (www.libertymutual. com) and Positive Coaching Alliance (www. positivecoach.org) in an effort to benefit millions of young athletes, parents and coaches.
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parkview mustangs Youth football & Cheerleading (little rock, ark.) is not only celebrating their season, they are celebrating having won a $2,500 responsible sports Community Grant from liberty mutual this year. visit responsiblesports.com/grant to find out how you can participate.
s the fall football season ends, coaches and parents begin to assess the season’s successes. For some, that evaluation is measured only in wins and losses. But the reality of sports – from the youth level to the pros – is that not all teams can be league champions. Responsible Coaches and Responsible Sport Parents look beyond scoreboards and standings. At season’s end, regardless of your record, the team from Responsible Sports encourages you to redefine winning and celebrate the successes you see when viewing sports from a broader perspective. Whether there is a zero in your “L” column or your “W” column, here are four achievements to celebrate. skills improvement. While the scoreboard might not show it, most of your players probably improved their skills this season. You can celebrate everyone from the quarterback who cut down on interceptions to the linemen who learned new blocking techniques to the defensive backs who stayed in front of receivers. By applying this “Coaching For Mastery” approach to football, coaches can celebrate the success of sheer improvement each week and at the end of the season, stoking the players’ desire to play again next year – regardless of this year’s record. sportsmanship. Your players’ sense of sportsmanship – or “Honoring the Game” in the words of our Responsible Sports partner Positive Coaching Alliance – is ample cause for celebration. Long after this season, your players will benefit from the type of character that lets them congratulate opponents on a great win or show restraint if an official makes a questionable call. Responsible Coaches and Responsible Sports Parents should praise
20 Usa football magazine
USA Football Regional Managers
USA Football Regional Managers are current and former coaches, players and administrators working for you. Each has the experience needed to help you make your league or team even stronger with USA Football’s resources. Contact your USA Football Regional Manager to learn how you can kickoff your free administrator membership or to ask about coaching certification, the nearest USA Football Coaching School, Player Academy or Officiating School. Stay in touch with your regional manager, whether it’s to share news about your league or team or to ask about member resources. In addition, you may always contact our office, based outside of Washington, D.C., through usafootball.com or by phone at 1-877-5-FOOTBALL. Let us know how we can serve you better. Together we’ll ensure that teamwork and leadership continue to serve as the laces binding our favorite game.
merica’s favorite sport is powered by you – dedicated youth league commissioners, coaches, game officials and volunteers. For each of you, there is a face and name to place in your football Rolodex: your USA Football Regional Manager.
(571) 730-4816 firstname.lastname@example.org
Great Lakes Region
(571) 730-4822 email@example.com
(571) 730-4815 firstname.lastname@example.org
(703) 992-8246 email@example.com
(818) 921-7616 firstname.lastname@example.org South & Mid-Atlantic
rick peacock Deno campBell
(703) 992-8653 email@example.com (703) 992-8107 firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet a USA Football Member
ootball has a way of bringing people together and What inspired you to join USA Football? instilling a sense of unity. The middle child out of five There have been limitations on what types of tools, clinics, boys, USA Football Administrator playbooks and practice planners are out there. Member Chad Blomgren began playing To have an association like USA Football whose America’s favorite sport in seventh grade, and mission is to improve your knowledge and the it has been a big part of his life ever since. players’ knowledge, I just can’t help but take A self-proclaimed “purple people eater” – or advantage of that. Minnesota Vikings fan – Blomgren grew up in Hills-Beaver Creek, a small Minnesota town What is your job as the second- through sixthwhere 9-man football was the game. grade director? Determined to share his passion with his My No. 1 goal, as is the goal of our president, is two sons, Blomgren volunteers his time serving teaching the fundamentals to the kids, making sure on the Elk River (Minn.) Football Association the coaches are equipped and prepared to teach board and is now the director for those fundamentals, that the coaches grades two through six. allow for a great experience for the CHAD BLOMGREN Blomgren recently spoke with players, and most importantly, that Resides: Elk River, Minn. USA Football Magazine to impart his we bring back as many young men to USA Football Membership: Administrator story and the value of being a USA this program every year as possible. Position: Director, Elk River Football Football member. Our goal is to meet in the off-season with the board and to mandate that Association, Grades 2-6 at least the head coach from each staff What is your favorite football complete USA Football’s online coaching certification. memory? When I was a sophomore in high school, I was brought up to play defensive end, and we were playing this team that had a real How have you benefited from a USA Football Administrator strong-horse running back. I was told by my older brother and Membership? coaches to stay ‘home’ in my position and take three steps across It’s a venue where you can pick the brains of other the line of scrimmage and angle in to the play. On my first play administrators and coaches and learn from some of the best ones from scrimmage, I did that and here comes this kid who is 50 out there. Chances are there’s someone who has experienced the pounds heavier than me, and I stuck him in the backfield. It was problem you’re facing, and there’s an answer out there you won’t one of the more memorable tackles of my high school career. have to come up with on your own.
What interested you in becoming involved with youth football? I was never able to have my father be my coach because the coaches were always from the school programs. The only way you can play football as a youth here is through our Elk River Football Association and all of the coaches are volunteers. So the fact that I have the opportunity that my dad didn’t have means a lot to me.
What do you enjoy about this position? I get enjoyment out of hearing from parents who share some of the great experiences their kids are having in football. While we don’t measure the success of our program on wins and losses, we do measure it on the growing number of boys that we have coming to play at Elk River. It is truly the only way in town that boys can play football.
Thank you, USA Football!
USA Football, with help from partners Schutt Sports and Gilman Gear, awarded $500,000 in equipment grants to more than 350 youth, middle school and high school football programs based on merit and need during the 2007-08 school year. Recipients have responded with a deluge of kind “thank you” letters to our non-profit office. An excerpt of one such note is printed here:
Dear USA Football, At times we can take gifts for granted and miss the moment to say ‘thank you,’ so ‘Thank you!’ What you have done for our program has been a blessing and very much appreciated. God has blessed you with a special gift (through football) – to make a positive effect on the life of a child. I hope and pray that your blessings will continue to manifest. With much humilty and gratitude, our football program thanks you for all that you do and for all that you have done. Willis Alexander Head Coach, Frederick A. Douglass H.S., Oklahoma City, Okla.
22 USA Football Magazine
Meet a USA Football board Member
ExEcutivE DirEctor, PoP WarnEr LittLE SchoLarS
elping steer USA Football’s mission as the sport’s national governing body on youth and amateur levels is its 18-member Board of Directors. The board is composed of leaders throughout the football community who share a deep appreciation for America’s favorite sport. This issue of USA Football Magazine introduces you USA Football Board Member Jon Butler, Pop Warner Little Scholars’ executive director since 1991.
How did your youth football coaches impact your personal development? My coaches played a huge role in my attitude and in building determination and competitiveness. I started playing organized football in the sixth grade and played a number of other sports, too. You’re a former high school football coach. What did that experience afford you and how has it helped you in leading Pop Warner? It helps me relate to coaches and understand what they go through on a day-to-day basis. Secondly, it helps me understand many of the obstacles faced in fielding a football team. Pop Warner mandates that head coaches attend a USA Football Coaching School or complete its online Certified Coaching Education Program (C.C.E.P.). Why is coaching education important to you? First, too many potential coaches think they should be a Vince Lombardi- or Woody Hayes-type – driving and hard-nosed. Especially in today’s society, that type of attitude frequently backfires and turns kids away. Second, being able to market to parents that our coaches are trained helps overcome the widespread misperception that football encounters more injuries than other youth sports. Where have you seen USA Football make its greatest strides during your tenure on the board? USA Football’s coaching education program has been a great, valuable step forward for all of us. Now that the online functionality has been added, it enables our 8,000 head coaches to take the course even though many don’t have access geographically to USA Football Coaching Schools.
What does youth football need to do in order to grow and become even better for kids and families involved in it? Most importantly, communicate positively and effectively that youth football is just as safe as other youth sports. Beyond that, I strongly believe that all youth sports programs should require education for at least head coaches, mandate background checks on everyone who has regular, repetitive contact with children and at every practice and/or game, require the presence of at least one person – at minimum – who has First Aid training or who has taken the P.R.E.P.A.R.E. course.
USA FootBAll’S BoArd oF directorS
Exec. V.P., Football Operations National Football League
Executive Director Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc.
Commissioner National Football League
Head Football Coach Cincinnati Mt. Healthy H.S.
Senior Regional Director NFL Players Association
President & CEO SGMA International
Executive Director USA Football
Vice President Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Interim Executive Director NFL Players Association
Director of Communications NFL Players Association
Chairman, USA Football Former U.S. Congressman
Executive Director American Football Coaches Association
Exec. V.P., Communications & Public Affairs National Football League
Director, NFL Youth Football Dept. National Football League
Chairman Fairfax County (Va.) Youth Football League
Athletic Director University of Maryland
Chief Operating Officer National Federation of State High School Associations
Former NFL Running Back Program Host, Washington Redskins Radio Network
Off-season training important for officials
By Dave McMahon
ootball is more popular than ever which translates to a tight off-season schedule for its officials. That’s why it’s so important for football officials to hone up on their profession once a season has concluded. Bill LeMonnier, USA Football’s officiating consultant, spends more time every year on the field as an official in the Big Ten Conference and in the Arena Football League. He also spends more time every year enhancing his knowledge. “The way it’s gotten today, with so much football being played, you have to work yearround on your training,” LeMonnier said. “I’ve seen way too many guys wait until Aug. 1 to worry about their fitness. Number one, you need to do it for yourself, for your own health. Number two, you don’t need to be able to play the game, but you do need to look the part and be able to run. You’ve got to work on fitness year-round.” USA Football’s officiating members have a treasure trove of information and skill-development programs available to them. “The USA Football rules interpretation is an outstanding feature,” LeMonnier said. “You can click on a topic on the Web site and go to the rule itself for examples of how it’s used. There also are video examples. You can take a look at the same thing from four or five perspectives.” LeMonnier has found that small-group meetings with other officials can also bring development in the area of rules during the off-season. “Guys will put together quizzes for their group in order to improve their rule knowledge,” LeMonnier said. “The great thing now is if you can’t meet as a crew in person, you can do so over email. You can also go to refstripes.com, which offers
a lot of dialogue about rule questions, interpretation, and everything else.” Clinics are another sure-fire way to improve skills and technique. “When I started as an official in 1973, there were two clinics in the country,” LeMonnier said. “Now there are probably 25-35 in the off-season. And they’re jammed, every one of them. There’s no space available once they’ve been posted. Guys are hungry. They eat this stuff up and they can’t get enough of it. And they sure don’t do it for the money. They do it because they love the game so much.” With video so easily accessible, film study has become another easy element to add to an official’s off-season development program. And for those just beginning
in the profession, finding a mentor is an important first step. “There are guys out there who would love to work with you and sit down and offer suggestions,” LeMonnier said. “All it takes is seeking them out. If someone wants to not only get better, but also advance, and you have the desire, you have to find a mentor to tell you the ins and outs of what it’s like at the next level. “If you have a mentor who can get the supervisor’s ear, and the name gets repeated to the supervisor, that’s going to help. Supervisors are at clinics. Go and meet them, let them put a face to the name. Give them an impression. Networking is all part of it.” Officials enter the sport at younger ages every year and LeMonnier has found them well-equipped to do the job. “Overall the ability of the young officials coming in far exceeds the level I was at when I started,” he said. “They just need the game experience. New, young officials are going to get an opportunity to move up a lot quicker today than they did before.” Even so, LeMonnier encourages them to get as much work as possible and always strive to improve. “Anytime you get complacent in what you’re doing, anytime you think you’ve got a handle on it, that’s when you start to slip behind,” LeMonnier said. “The game continues to evolve. It’s not the game my father played. Whether it’s the speed, offenses or techniques, the game is evolving. It’s not our game. It’s their game. They’re not going to adjust to us; we’ve got to adjust to the game.” USA Football’s 2009 Officiating School and Seminar Schedule will be posted at usafootball.com by New Year’s Day. Roll to the gray “Officiating” tab and click, “Officiating Schools.”
health & fitness
24 USA Football Magazine
Wojcikiewicz keeps busy in the off-season
Jim Wojcikiewicz, a football official from Lockport, Ill., makes off-season improvement a priority. The USA Football officiating member takes a three-pronged attack to bettering his skills. First, he stays in shape physically by running 10Ks and half-marathons. Next, he does a lot of film study, whether from high school, college or NFL games. And around March 1, he begins shoring up on rules. “I study rules for about 15 or 20 minutes a day, every day of the week,” Wojcikewicz Wojcikiewicz said. “I try to cover different rules and philosophies. At this point in my career, a lot of what I ask myself is ‘How do I philosophically apply that rule in a given situation.’” Film work is an easy way to get several of his peers together in the off-season. “I try to get other people to watch film with me, whether it’s film of games that I’ve worked or that I didn’t work,” Wojcikiewicz said. “Other people can pick up on things that I may not see. The more eyes you can get watching and providing feedback, the better. You can also put yourself in different situations. I might look at a call and say, ‘If I was the back judge, what would I call?’” Wojcikiewicz began his career while he was a student at the University of Iowa. He currently works high school varsity, Division III college and indoor football games. He began his 19th season at the high school level in 2008, and has 10 years under his belt as a Division III official. “It was a great job when I was a student at the University of Iowa,” Wojcikiewicz said. “I would work intramurals a couple of days a week and youth games on Tuesday and Thursday, so I had plenty of games. I was very, very fortunate.” Whether he’s off from his Chicago-area home to southern Wisconsin or northern Indiana for a Division III game on a Saturday, Wojcikiewicz has seen a game evolving before his eyes. “I like that the game is getting better and faster. It’s my responsibility to keep up with it, and that’s a challenge in itself,” Wojcikiewicz said. “If you don’t keep up with it during the offseason, you will not do it during the season. You don’t necessarily learn when you’re on the field. The off-season is the time to learn.” Wojcikiewicz usually attends two clinics a year, one for high school officials and another for college officials. He also shares his knowledge about the profession when he speaks annually at one high school clinic. Wojcikiewicz, who works in sales, plans to remain involved in America’s favorite sport for years to come, which is why he works at it in the off-season. “It’s extremely important to get work done in the off-season,” he said. “If you don’t keep improving, people will absolutely pass you by.” – Dave McMahon
Season in Rewind
CoaChing offiCiating league health & fitness
By Rashad Mulla
USA Football Officiating Member Reviews Season Two; His First With USA Football
yle Hastings recalled feeling the same jitters in 1997, before playing his first college football game as an Olivet Nazarene University Tiger. Fast-forward to the 2008 football season. The former Tigers offensive lineman and position coach was amped up again, anxious to take the field, this time donning an official’s stripes. Hastings was about to begin his second year as a Chicago Catholic League high school football official after a playing and coaching career. “I’m a lot more confident now,” said Hastings, a firstyear USA Football officiating member. “But I still have butterflies in my stomach after 15 years of football.” Hastings, 29, spent his offseason going over mechanics, positioning, football rules and implementation. He turned to USA Football’s officiating membership to help improve his on-field performance through usafootball.com’s tutorials and video clips. “It has been a huge asset to my officiating,” Hastings USA Football Officiating Member Kyle Hastings is gaining confidence and said. “I don’t know 100 percent of the rules, but I can compliments on the field. always refer to the website.” An umpire, Hastings said his 2008 season went well. “I felt confident when I stepped on the field and even more confident when I stepped off,” said Hastings, a member of the Central Officials Association in Illinois. During the offseason, Hastings reviewed film of his rookie season work. He wanted to improve his mechanics and understanding of the rules. Bill Hellmer, a 30-year officiating veteran who oversees the Chicago Catholic League’s 130 officials, noted the second-year official’s improvement. “He’s progressing along the curve as a secondyear official should be,” Hellmer said. “There is a noticeable difference in his demeanor on the field. He knows where he has to be on the field.” USA Football officiating consultant Bill LeMonnier, a Big 10 and Arena Football referee, said Hastings’ hunger to learn is the key to his improvement. any way possible. “He’s really receptive and open,” LeMonnier said. “He doesn’t “I’m trying to referee in front of the TV,” said Hastings, who want things sugar-coated.” has now officiated more than 80 youth and high school games in During this offseason, Hastings plans to study more film, his two seasons. “I have a couple of mentors that I’ve watched for improve his mechanics and review USA Football’s officiating awhile. I try to learn from them.” resources. Hastings seeks officiating knowledge and experience in
26 USA Football Magazine
With members in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, USA Football recently caught up with four officiating members spanning the Great Lakes to the Southwest. Below are their straight-ahead thoughts on topics from football to food to music.
RiCh ALmeROth tUCSOn, ARiz. holding
ALAn tURmAn ShRevepORt, LA. Unsportsmanlike conduct on a coach
JOhn WieRCinSki COmStOCk, miCh. Anything that impacts the outcome of the game keep your head up
BOB hyDe emmett, iDAhO holding
hardest call to make
Advice for a new official
know the rules
Last book you read
“Sacred marriage” by Gary L. thomas
USA Football Officials handbook
“Born to Referee” by Jerry markbreit
“knight: my Story” by Bob knight metallica
Favorite musician pre-game meal or snack
my son, michael Almeroth Chocolate Shake
Spicy Slim Jim Snickers & mountain Dew
Spaghetti or Lasagna
Best team nickname in football
Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College Artichokes Rich hall, nFL Umpire
minnesota University Golden Gophers
texas Christian University horned Frogs
Southern illinois Salukis
Football official you respect the most
mike Carey, nFL Referee
tony michalek, nFL Umpire
Bill Lemonnier, College (Big ten) & AFL Referee
USA Football offers resource-packed memberships to give coaches, officials and youth league administrators an edge. Learn more at usafootball.com/register.
World’s top national teams eager for Canton journey
Six nations earn berths for eight-country IFAF Junior World Championship field
By Steve AliC
on Wednesday, July 1 and Saturday, July 4, overtime Gold Medal game decision to destination for pro football’s greats, before the Championship Game on Sunday, USA Football’s senior team in the 2007 Canton, Ohio, also becomes the July 5. IFAF Senior World Championship. Held in targeted town of high school players The Bahamas enter international Kawasaki, Japan, NFL Network televised the from all corners of the world in 2009. competition for the first time when contest nationally in the U.S. Six nations from three continents traveling to Panama for a qualifying game “I give sincere appreciation to IFAF and recently clinched berths for the 2009 on Saturday, Jan. 24, in Panama City. USA Football for hosting the first Junior International Federation of American The winner will visit Mexico on Football (IFAF) Junior World Saturday, Feb. 14, in Mexico City for Championship, to be held the right to join the Junior World in Canton’s historic Fawcett Championship field. Stadium from June 27-July 5. The Oceania will be represented by tournament is football’s first world either Australia or New Zealand, championship among high schoolwho will meet in Canberra, aged national teams. A total of 52 Australia, during the Australia countries are IFAF members, each Day weekend national holiday on with a national federation dedicated Saturday, Jan. 24. solely to the sport. “It is a testament to American Canada, France, Germany, Japan, football’s strength that we have Sweden and the United States are in. such a diverse group of countries Two berths remain for Australia, 2009 IFAF Junior World Championship determined to compete at the Bahamas, Mexico, New Zealand the game’s highest level,” and Panama. Qualified: said Tommy Wiking, Sweden earned its Canton Pan America: Canada, United States president of Paris-based ticket by finishing second, behind Europe: France, Germany, Sweden IFAF. “This first Junior Germany, in the 2008 European Asia: Japan World Championship will Junior Championship. The top three stand among the most teams from Europe’s eight-nation Qualifying games: significant international events in tournament (Germany, Sweden and Pan America football’s rich history. Our languages France, respectively) qualified for Jan. 24, 2009: Bahamas at Panama and cultures may differentiate us, next summer’s world championship. (Panama City) but we’re united through our passion “For us, being in the first IFAF Feb. 14, 2009: Bahamas-Panama Winner at Mexico for football and the team-oriented Junior World Championship in (Mexico City) values that it inspires.” Canton is historic – an experience Oceania “We, as a small nation in the without comparison,” said Team Jan. 24, 2009: New Zealand at Australia football community, are very, very Sweden head coach Jan Jenmert. (Canberra, Australia) proud to take part in this, and we “A lot of our inspiration in our will do everything in our ability developing journey has been the World Championship in Canton,” said Teruo to prepare our team for next year’s event,” magnitude of this event and the fact that Sweden’s Jenmert added. “It is really Taniguchi, president of the Japan American this tournament is held in the cradle of our important for us to play against the great Football Association (JAFA), established beloved sport. nations of football – the U.S.A., Canada, in 1934. “With the success of hosting the “Not only is it held in the U.S.A., but on Mexico and Japan – and we will take the Senior World Championship in 2007, JAFA historic ground in Canton, Ohio, which has opportunity to learn as much as possible been a huge energizer for our entire staff and is eager to continue football’s international from that experience.” development.” players.” The IFAF Junior World Championship Japan, representing Asia, saw its senior For more on the 2009 IFAF Junior World kicks off on Saturday, June 27 and continues national team narrowly lose a 23-20 doubleChampionship, visit jwcfootball.com.
28 USA Football Magazine
photo courtesy of the pro football hall of fame
Fawcett Stadium Earns national honor
ro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, the site of the 2009 IFAF Junior World Championship, was recently named the country’s best high school football stadium by ESPN. Built in 1924 with a capacity of more than 20,000, one of the country’s best football venues is the home field for three high schools and two colleges. Named for the late John A. Fawcett, a local civic leader and Canton Board of Education member, the venue features artificial turf, a pro-style press box and lighting system. The site also hosts Ohio high school football state championship games. In addition, the stadium is home to the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, which traditionally begins the NFL season every August. Standing adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Fawcett Stadium underwent a sparkling $4.3 million renovation in 1997. The 2009 IFAF Junior World Championship kicks off on June 27.
Football facts, stats & figures
USA Football continually conducts and uncovers research to share with you, our members. We speak with league administrators, youth coaches, game officials and parents to learn how America’s favorite sport can be even better. Every issue of USA Football Magazine shares “Facts, Stats and Figures” pertaining to the football community. USA Football’s 37 coaching schools in 2008 drew nearly 7,000 coaches from more than 30 states. Consistently striving to better serve the game, USA Football surveyed more than 700 of its coaching school participants this year and discovered the following findings from this group:
How many years have you coached football?
How much did you learn at your USA Football Coaching School?
0-1 year 15% 2-3 years 28%
Reinforced things I knew – 8% 6+ years 33% Learned a lot of new things – 39%
Would you recommend USA Football Coaching Schools to others?
Would you consider attending this event next year?
3-5 years 25%
Learned a few new things – 53%
Yes – 97%
Yes – 94%
Source: 2008 uSA FootbAll coAching School SurveyS
According to the most recent participation study conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the number of boys playing high school football nearly doubles the next-played sport.
The most popular high school sports played by boys during the 2007-08 school year:
1.2 1200000 Million
With a free USA Football administrator membership, every youth football league can receive a $10 subsidy from USA Football on gold-standard background checks for its coaches from the National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI). Of the thousands of background checks run across America with USA Football’s financial assistance, 4.3 percent have drawn “red lights.”
616,034 552,935 478,029 383,561
300000 300,000 600000 600,000
A breakdown of “red light” determinations made through USA Football’s Background Check Subsidy Program:
Any felony; a crime punishable by confinement greater than one year – 45.4% Any lesser crime involving force or threat of force against a person – 36.4% Any lesser crime involving controlled substances (does not include alcohol) – 13.9% Any lesser crime in which sexual relations is an element (including pornography) – 3.2%
Source: ncSi, october 2008
Track & Field Basketball
Source: 2007-08 nFhS high School AthleticS PArticiPAtion Study
30 USA Football Magazine
What Football Taught Me
Sgt. Tommy Rieman, United States Army
As Told To Tim Polzer
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Sgt. Tommy Rieman distinguished himself through gallant acts of courage and bravery under fire, and he believes his years of playing football helped him become an honored soldier. Rieman was introduced to football at the youth league level and earned the status of captain as quarterback and safety for Simon Kenton High School in Independence, Ky. Rieman received offers to play football at several small colleges, but he instead chose to enlist in the U.S. Army. The same determination that drove him to succeed in football pushed Rieman through many of the Army’s challenges including Airborne School training and achieving
“Basically everything I learned in football I have also used in the Army.”
expertise as a “light fighters” infantryman. After volunteering for service in Kosovo as part of Operation Noble Freedom, Rieman re-enlisted for an assignment in Germany where he joined Echo Company, 51st Infantry Long Range Surveillance (LRS), where he completed Special Forces training. In early 2003, Rieman and his LRS, unit were charged with scouting the way for ground operations in Iraq. Echo Company entered ahead of armored units spearheading Operation Iraqi Freedom. In December of 2003, Rieman and his unit were on a surveillance mission deep in Iraq
when they encountered enemy fire in the form of three rocketpowered grenades (RPGs) and three roadside bombs. During the ensuing firefight, Rieman returned fire while positioning himself between his fellow soldiers and the enemy. He sustained severe bullet wounds in the chest and arm but continued returning fire until his unit was safely outside the kill zone. The sergeant later came under fire again until machine gun fire silenced the enemy. Following his return to the United States in 2004, Rieman was awarded the Silver Star for “acts of conspicuous gallantry and courage under fire while serving as an Assistant Team Leader in Echo, 51st Infantry Long Range Surveillance Company.”
And football doesn’t leave your s a kid, I always wanted to be heart just because you spend months G.I. Joe, and as a teenager, I overseas fighting for your country. always wanted to play college My fellow soldiers and I always talked football or join the Army. I’ve been football, and thanks to AFN (Armed lucky to include football and the Forces Radio Network), NFL.com and Army in my life. other Web sites, we could keep up Basically everything I learned in with our favorite teams and stay in football I have also used in the Army. the know. Football gave us something In fact, I live every day of my life using to think about – something important the lessons football taught me. in our lives back home – when we Discipline, camaraderie, teamwork; had some time between missions. I think they work hand-in-hand. Both Sgt. Tommy Rieman, center, stands between former Marshall University Football Coach Jack Lengyel and Sometimes we would stay up all night require fighting for something much to watch NFL games – they didn’t greater than yourself. That’s what being Pro Football Hall of Fame Cornerback Mike Haynes. Sgt. Rieman’s acts of courage were honored by the Pro Football kickoff until 3 a.m. in Iraq – but it part of a team is all about – coming Hall of Fame this past August. was worth it. together to accomplish a goal. That’s I encourage kids to go out for their youth football leagues as what we do in the Army, and that’s what I did when I played football. soon as they are old enough. And for those kids who choose other Football is the greatest sport in the world. The game symbolizes America. When you think of America, you think of football – youth sports, I encourage them to try out again in their freshman year of high school. It’s not too late to benefit from the lessons football football, high school football, college football, pro football – you can bestow on you. think of greatness. Every boy wants to grow up to play in the NFL. From my first years playing for the Boone County Pee Wee Football Each issue of USA Football Magazine reveals what America’s Redskins through high school, I always loved to hit. At Simon Kenton, I favorite sport has taught accomplished individuals in varying played quarterback, but also loved to play safety. I also learned how to career fields. These football accounts illustrate how today’s players be a leader, a quality that carried over into my Army career, too. become tomorrow’s leaders.
32 USA Football Magazine
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