Youth football league representatives from around the Bay area absorbed valuable information during the full-day forum at One Buccaneer Place
Courtesy of USA Football
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' ongoing support of youth football throughout West Florida was on display again on February 21 when USA Football's West Florida State Leadership Forum was held at One Buccaneer Place.
USA Football is the national governing body on the youth and amateur levels for the country's most popular sport. It is also the official youth football development partner of the Buccaneers and each of the NFL's other 31 teams.
Those partners gathered at team headquarters last week to discuss best practices and to learn how USA Football and the Buccaneers can strengthen their organizations. Included in the full-day discussion were youth league commissioners, presidents and board members from across the Tampa/St. Petersburg area as well as Buccaneers Community Relations Director Miray Holmes.
"The information and education USA Football provides is priceless," said Mark LaMonte, owner of the Zephyrills (FL) Police Athletic League (PAL), who attended the forum for the second consecutive year. "Specifically, the information that was handed out and discussed regarding concussions was very critical this year and it's something that we will share with the coaches for all of our PAL youth sports programs, not just football."
Concussion awareness information is one of many resources that USA Football distributes to youth football leaders and makes available on its web site. The organization also provides coaching education for football's dedicated volunteers, equipment grants, coaching benefits such as online practice planners and a video drills library, as well as price breaks for the leagues to conduct in-depth background checks on potential volunteers.
This sort of grassroots aid for the game of football is vitally important to the Buccaneers and the NFL.
"With the support from NFL teams like the Bucs, USA Football is helping unify youth football," said Rick Peacock, USA Football's Southeast Regional Manager, who led the forum. "Ultimately it's the kids who love to play football who benefit from these forums - they're going to enjoy the game more if their coaches and league commissioners are prepared and offer them the proper guidance."
Events such as the one at Buccaneers headquarters give attendees comprehensive football information that they can bring back and share with their respective organizations.
Other items discussed by Peacock and league commissioners at Saturday's forum at One Buccaneer Place included ways to best promote player sign-ups, coaching and officiating training resources, a national youth football playing standard, pre- and post-season events and fundraising guidance.
USA Football selects one commissioner at each of its 38 state forums to attend the NFL/USA Football Youth Summit in Canton, Ohio, in July. Approximately 200 coaches and administrators from every state take part in the annual event to discuss topics vital to the continued success of youth and high school programs. Receiving the special invitation from the West Florida forum was Joshua McKee, commissioner of the Clearwater (Fla.) Rattlers youth football program.
"I'm looking forward to meeting coaches and learning more about coaching styles and strategies," McKee said. "I'm also excited to go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I'm always searching for ways to better our organization and I think that the NFL/USA Football summit in Canton will enable me to bring back positive ideas to share."
More than 800 youth football commissioners are invited to take part in USA Football state forums annually, each of which are led by a USA Football regional manager. To learn more about USA Football and how its non-profit office can work for your league, visit www.usafootball.com.