WESTFIELD-Officials with Westfield Youth Football and Cheer are hosting a special recruitment night March 22 at the Roots Athletic Center to welcome new and existing players and cheerleaders.
The free event, for children in grades 3-8 interested in football and cheer, as well as those in kindergarten through grade 2 interested in flag football, is planned from 6 to 9 p.m. and will feature pizza, games of knockerball, registration and schedule information.
“Parents should come see what our program is all about, meet the coaches, and see what we are doing to protect our players and cheerleaders while teaching them the fundamentals of the sport,” said Melanie McNamara, who serves as vice president of the Westfield Youth Football (WYF) organization. “In addition to teaching them the necessary skills needed to participate in the program, we are also instilling the ideals of good sportsmanship, honesty, loyalty and respect for one’s self and others.”
The program serves players in Westfield and the surrounding hill towns, as well as any other athlete who lives in a town that does not offer football, according to McNamara.
“Board members and coaches will be on hand to answer any questions families may have,” said McNamara, adding that information is also available at www.westfieldyouthfootball.org and on Facebook.
Last year 229 youngsters were registered for the football and cheer programs and the hope is to increase those numbers this spring with the recruitment drive, said McNamara. The cost for flag football is $50, $150 for cheer, and tackle is $170, with a 10 percent sibling discount for multi-player families.
“It is a great place for the players to learn the fundamentals of the sport and begin to learn concepts such as teamwork, fair play, and good sportsmanship,” said McNamara, adding that boys and girls are welcome to join any of the teams.
McNamara’s children all echoed a similar sentiment.
“The coaches care a lot about teaching us about football and respecting each other,” said Cooper McNamara, 12, adding, “I have made a lot of good friendships.”
“He was one of the captains for the Junior Bombers team that won the Northeast Regional title and went to the Football Hall of Fame in Ohio to play in the national championship where they were ranked fifth in the nation in their division this past year,” said McNamara.
For Breanna McNamara, 10, she has been active in cheer since kindergarten.
“My coaches are sweet to me and they let me do flips,” said Breanna, who will cheer for the junior division again this season. Breanna added she has “met good friends and loves doing ‘baskets,’ a stunt where she sits on the arms of the other girls and they toss her up into the air where she does a straddle at the top and then they catch her. Breanna is also a level four gymnast and some of those skills are used during routines.
“I like spending time with my friends, learning football, and running,” added Spencer McNamara, 8, who has played flag for the past three years and will be moving up to first year tackle.
Working behind the scenes for the recruitment drive as well as the season ahead, in conjunction with the Roots Athletic Center, includes Troy St. Pierre, WYF president; McNamara, WYF vice president; Ryan Lavner of Roots Athletic Center; Jen Castell, WYF registrar; Michelle Kotarski, WYF Cheer director, and Kevin Matuszczak, WYF flag coordinator.
Coaches and assistants are still being determined at press time and include Joe Golec, Chad Johnson, Paul Connolly, Kevin McDonald, Kevin Topor, Tim Satkowski, Mike Connally, Tim Guay, Jeff McNamara, Terry Hanechak, Brian Connors, Matt McElhiney, Todd Conant and Troy St. Pierre.
“The WYF organization offers players a sense of belonging,” said McNamara, adding that important life skills are instilled including respect, teamwork, and learning how to take direction and criticism.