The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 6, 2013

Mighty moms are women warriors on gridiron

Jefferson Youth Football League mothers take a powder as a way to raise funds

By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon

— The moms of Jefferson Youth Football League found a way to not only get in on the game themselves, but to raise a bit of money in doing so.

As a fundraiser, 30 moms of the football players and cheerleaders put themselves through a tryout, draft, practices and two games all in the interest of trying to purchase new helmets and pom poms.

“We mentioned it (to the moms) and we walked around at all the teams’ practices,” Carrie Brown, JYFL volunteer and one of the event organizers, said. “It wasn’t hard (to get enough moms to want to play). For the most part we were in it and we stuck in it.

“We mentioned it and several of the moms jumped right on board. Two of the coaches, John Hall of the Upper Red and Mike Lingo of the Lower Black, jumped right in to volunteer to coach us.”

After a tryout and draft, the ladies were divided into two teams, Team Red coached by Hall and Joe Campbell, and Team Black, coached by Lingo and Jeremy Reid. Then they were put through the paces during practices several days a week. The coaches split their time between their boys and their ladies as practices ran concurrently.

“They made us do drills and they drafted us,” Brown said. “They started the boys’ practices a half an hour before ours just to get them going, then they sent their assistants with the boys and came over to run plays with us.”

That system only worked for a short time, however, as the postseason approached for the boys’ teams.

“They said, ‘Ladies, we’ve got to take care of the boys,’” Brown said. “We were right with them on that, so we ran our own practices.”

In a grudge match, Team Black beat Team Red, 21-6, on Sept. 25. The teams then combined forces and kept practicing for a contest with the Madison Blue Streak moms. Jefferson won that game, 18-0, Saturday at Falcon Pride Stadium.

There were serious bragging rights on the line when the two Jefferson teams squared off. By comparison, the Madison game wasn’t as cutthroat.

“Several moms endured broken fingers, there was a broken nose, pulled hair and many bruises,” Brown said. “We took some hands to the throat.

“Madison, you could tell it was a different game. It was a lighter game.”

The boys served as cheerleaders with the regulars for the first contest. In the second, the cheerleaders entertained at halftime with a routine they put in extra time to to learn.

JYFL will use the funds from these games to provide new equipment for the youth involved, keeping the registration fees as low as possible and maintaining the youth program to the highest standards.

“We did very well,” Brown said. “We don’t have everything in yet from the Madison game.”

A number of businesses in and around Jefferson helped make the event a success.

“The JYFL moms would like to thank all of the local area sponsors and volunteers who made the event possible,” Brown said. “There were 35 to 40 businesses. It made me feel good. We had individual sponsors, sold shoutouts, where they could write a message the moms or the players and cheerleaders and had them along the fences.

“It was a good feeling. Jefferson is — and I have said this many times — Jefferson is a very giving community as far as the children.”

The events were such a success that they will be continued next year, with some additions, making a full schedule for the moms possible.

“Geneva was ready to jump on board (this year), but didn’t think it could get a team ready in time. They want to play next year. I just recently heard Buckeye is ready to jump on board. We might do something like what the boys do.”

The moms even impressed their boys along the way.

“Kelly (Farina’s) son, Cole, said after the game Saturday, ‘Mom, both of the times you grabbed the flags, you made them lose yards!’ He was ecstatic for his mom.”

And the moms came away from the experience with a healthy appreciation of what their sons go through during a season.

“For me personally, absolutely (did I get a better understanding of what they go through),” Brown said. “My son (Tyler, 11, a player for the Jefferson Upper Red) comes to me and says, ‘Three days a week (for practice)’ or ‘It’s four nights until the game.’ He was all smiles when I said Mom had to go to practice, especially after the first game. We were sore.

“I don’t know how the boys do it. I can watch from the sidelines and get the gist of it. The coach would call plays like, trips right 18 keeper. He would actually call plays like that. We learned all those plays. It was definitely an eye opener. I can sit and watch a football game and understand it.”

It was also a way for the boys and their moms to bond in a way generally reserved for fathers and sons.

“For me, it was a lot (of a bonding experience with my son),” Brown said. “I’m very involved with my kids, but it meant a lot. At first, Tyler said I didn’t know football, I couldn’t catch and I couldn’t throw. After the first few times, he said, ‘Oh, OK, maybe you do know.’”

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.