One of the main things you can count on in life is change.
Some change is almost glacial in its pace, while other changes move much more rapidly.
Such is the way of life and so it is with youth football in Fayette County.
After over half a century of Miami Trace and Washington youth playing in the Pony Football League, folks representing Miami Trace have opted to go in another direction, starting the Miami Trace Youth Football Program.
It will be for youth in grades 3-6.
For this upcoming season, there are enough kids to have two separate third grade teams and one team each in grades four, five and six.
“I played in the Pony League 30-some years ago,” Rob Guthrie, chairman of the board of MTYFP said. “I’ve seen it hit and miss since.
“My concern was not so much with the Pony League as it was our high school program,” Guthrie said. “The direction we were going in with the high school program, feeding it and supporting it.
“Over the last three or four years, I’ve been talking with some people about the high school program,” Guthrie said. “People such as former coach Jeff Conroy and our current coach, Steve Bartlett, and a few others who have coached and been a part of the program for many years.
“We were all on the same page,” Guthrie said. “We’re just not feeding our program. We’re like everybody else; we’re too busy to start a new project, so, nothing was ever put in place.
“After this past season, the gentlemen on our board got together a few times and we just mutually knew it was time to do something for our high school (program),” Guthrie said. “To feed it and provide it with better players. We want the kids to be better informed, better educated coming up through the system.
“This is not to lay blame on the head coach,” Guthrie said. “The head coach can only work with what he has. We knew it was a system failure of laying the foundation and feeding the program. We just kind of bit the bullet and decided it was time to do something.
“To do it right, we knew we had to develop our own program,” Guthrie said. “(We had to) put the right people in place and find the right system and that’s what we decided to do.”
In addition to Guthrie, other members of the board of the MTYFP are: Jeff Conroy, Dan Roberts, Steve Bartlett, Jeff Spears and Keith Guthrie and Jack Anders.
“When we spoke with Coach Bartlett, he was thrilled to get the right people with the right ideas to get him a feeder program,” Guthrie said.
These youthful Miami Trace teams will be joining the Western Ohio Junior Football Conference with an eight-game season schedule.
Teams in this conference are from the communities of: Fairborn, Miamisburg, Springboro, Greenville, Wilmington, Meadowdale, West Carrollton, Wayne, Mad River, Kettering, Vandalia, Springfield and Jamestown.
Practices for the upcoming season will begin July 25. To start, teams are allowed to practice up to four times a week. After Labor Day, practices will be reduced to a maximum of three times a week.
According to a statement provided by the MTYFP, some of the objectives are: to provide a wholesome, enjoyable experience of playing football for youth in grades 3-6 while teaching the basic fundamentals of the game, teamwork, good sportsmanship, discipline and response to leadership;
– Character development, respect and building bright young men for the future;
– To encourage the players to maintain satisfactory grades in school and to emphasize the importance of keeping a proper relationship and balance between scholastic and athletic endeavors;
– To provide a well-organized and implemented program that is appreciated and favorably received by the parents of the school district;
– To restore and exceed past excellence in Miami Trace football;
– To meet and exceed the program’s five-year plan in reaching excellence in building a solid foundation for the varsity football program.
The statement goes on to say the program will focus on child safety, fundamentals and character development.
As for participation, each player must participate in five contact plays per half, according to the statement.
Established practice plans and playbooks will be provided by the board of directors.
The season starts the weekend of Aug. 13 and 14.
The Miami Trace Youth Football Program teams are being sponsored by Nick Epifano, owner and operator of McDonald’s of Fayette County and Jamestown.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1