As an organization, the ultimate responsibility of MYAA football is to ensure that children from Medford and Medford Lakes are provided an opportunity to safely learn the game of football and prepare them for competition at the high school level. In doing so, we must balance challenging our program and players by participating at a high level of competition with ensuring that we do so in a league that includes other township programs that are aligned with us in terms of program size, developmental goals and sportsmanship.
Over the last few months, a group of parents and coaches performed a thorough analysis of our options regarding league competition and have concluded that our program, players and parents would be better served by moving to the South Jersey Independent Youth Football League. It was with some sadness that I had to inform South Jersey Elite of this decision recognizing that our organization’s history and legacy was built while competing in the SJE/Garden State league. Despite any flaws it may have, as do all leagues and organizations, the SJE has fostered and helped create some great memories and experiences, both through victories and defeats. But we need to continue to provide our players and families with the experience that we've all come to expect from MYAA football. Some of the most successful people in our community are Medford Indians alumni, including some of our current coaches. A large majority of our players choose to play at the next level in high school and many have continued their football careers in college but most important is the experience but most important is the experience and foundation that our program and football in general has provided. This is evident whether it’s a 50 year old who is coaching in our program or a 20 year old kid still coming out to help when he’s home from college. I can't stress enough how important it is that our program maintains our core values so our young kids still get to enjoy and benefit from the same experience that their older brothers and fathers had. And that is what has driven us through a difficult decision.
In considering our objective of providing an enjoyable experience in learning the game and preparing for competition at the next level, we were forced to look at alternatives to the SJE league. In doing this, we focused primarily on our younger ages. We feel that our 5-10 year olds were at a disadvantage learning the game with the disparity in program sizes and recent departures of other similar sized programs making it difficult to justify remaining in the league. Moving forward, competing in the SJ Independent league offers us what we feel is a more appropriate age and weight groupings. They are as follows:
- 65lb – ages 5,6
- 80lb – ages 7,8
- 95lb – ages 9,10
- 110lb – ages 11,12
- 125lb – ages 13,14
- Junior High (Unlimited) – 7th, 8th grades
Of notable interest is the 65lb weight class. This provides our 5 and 6 year olds with a true developmental experience similar to the SJE 70lb JV level where coaches remain on the field to guide and instruct players.
The move also provides us with competition against similar sized programs. Familiar programs that we will now be competing against include, Cherry Hill, Moorestown and Lumberton to name a few. As part of the evaluation we worked alongside Marlton and Fleetwood (Mt Laurel) so I’m happy to report that our Lenape School district rivalries will continue as both programs have also joined the new league.
In conjunction with our focus on providing an environment to safely prepare our players for high school competition, we are also working on a more unified and consistent approach to coaching. Shawnee High School's head coach Tim Gushue and defensive coordinator, Gene Shulman are providing us with direction for developing a football curriculum that will provide a continuous path, from 5 year olds up through our 8th grade players, that builds upon the previous experience from weight class to weight class, finishing with a player who when leaving the program is prepared to excel at the high school level. Of course this includes incorporating the same safer practice techniques and guidelines used at Shawnee, endorsed by USA Football and introduced to our program over the last few years.
With the change of leagues, our teams have been realigned due to the change in weights and ages. We have also expanded from five teams to six. Below you will find a link to an age chart to help you determine what team your son would likely be on this upcoming season. Also, due to the adjustment regarding which team players will now be age and weight eligible, our coaching assignments for each team still need to be determined. Once you determine which team your son will be on, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have interest in a coaching position on that team.
Follow this link for more information on our new league http://www.eteamz.com/sjiyfa/
In closing, I would like to thank our volunteer committee who gathered information, met with league representatives and ultimately made the decision to ensure that you and your children are afforded the best experience possible when choosing to play Medford football.
I would also like to thank the members and board of the SJE football league, especially Mike DiFlorio and Tom Smith for their cooperation, genuine concern for our program and their understanding through this process. 'SJE' is a bunch of guys working tirelessly trying to give kids a chance to play football. We appreciate everything they have done in providing a 1st class league where teams can compete at the highest level and I wish them, their organizations and the SJE league the best in the interest of providing South Jersey football players the opportunity to play the sport we all love.
I finally I would like to thank the South Jersey Independent league for accepting our program into the league. We look forward to working towards our common goal of providing all of our players the opportunity to learn and enjoy the game through a competitive but developmental experience.