DE Ellis Wyms, who still remembers the lessons of youth football, was on hand Saturday for the Bucs' donation
With Ellis Wyms on hand to share his own experience with youth football, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers donated $100,000 to the Tampa Bay Youth Football League on Saturday
Youth football was a powerful component in the lives of many players for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For many, it was where they first realized the skills they possessed, where they learned the rules of the game and, most importantly, where they gained valuable insights on life and relationships, lessons they appreciate to this day.
On Saturday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed their support for youth football through the NFL Grassroots program by donating $100,000 to the Tampa Bay Youth Football League at Skyway Park. Defensive end Ellis Wyms, who remembers his youth football days fondly, was on hand for the official donation.
"I can truly tell you that the lessons I've learned and the people I've meet during my youth football days have had an impact on me as an adult," said Wyms. "Learning about accountability, the benefits of strong work ethic and building character are all things that playing youth football has done for me and I know they can do the same for you."
The Tampa Bay Youth Football League will administer the $100,000 grant. Renovations will include the installation of new sod, the repair of existing bleachers and the construction of a locker room and storage facility. These projects will improve playing conditions at Skyway Park's two football fields, which are joined by one common concession area. Among the events held at the park each year is the Mike Alstott Youth Football Camp.
The improvements will benefit more than 2,600 youth who currently use the fields for football and cheerleading programs organized by the Tampa Bay Youth Football League. The renovated fields will also host a range of other activities, including youth football clinics run by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL Europe spring training camps, and special community events.
The program is a joint venture among the NFL, NFLPA and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the country's leading community development support organization. The NFL, NFLPA and LISC identify local non-profit, neighborhood-based agencies in each city then provide them with financing and technical assistance to improve the quality and safety of football fields in their local schools, parks and neighborhoods. The local groups then oversee the construction, maintenance, and programming of the fields.
On Saturday, Dalton Cross, the CEO of LISC, Scott Burkett, the Athletic Director of Parks, and Ross Bartow, the President of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission all made brief presentations. Wyms then shared with the audience of parents, players and cheerleaders a glimpse of what youth football meant to him.
The programs that will be made possible by Saturday's grant from the Buccaneers will mean a lot to thousands of future youth football players.
"(This grant is) everything to the future of our program," said Scott Levinson, the President of the TBYFL. "We live off the registration fees and the concession stand. Every year we have enough money to buy trophies and then we're done, so we can't ever do mass improvements. With this money we can make improvements that will last for 10 years. It's a big help and especially with the Buccaneers and the NFL backing us that makes it even more special."
The NFL Grassroots program is part of the NFL Youth Football Fund, a $150 million fund established by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to support youth football initiatives. Since 1998, the program has provided $8 million in grants and helped community organizations rebuild 88 football fields in more than 40 urban neighborhoods.