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Change in leagues leaves Prescott youth football players without equipment
Youth Football

A change in leagues means all Prescott Youth Football players will need new equipment this year. (Courtesy)

A change in leagues means all Prescott Youth Football players will need new equipment this year. (Courtesy)

PRESCOTT — Prescott Youth Football will be shifting from Alliance Youth Sports to Northern Arizona Youth Football (NAF) for the start of the 2019 fall season in August.

The Prescott Youth Football organization, which typically sees more than 100 athletes from grades one through eight sign up each season, was once part of NAF for several years. The team made the switch to Alliance two years ago because of the league’s option to rent out equipment, which helped keep the costs down for the players.

However, Alliance, which is based out of Phoenix, recently disbanded in the northern Arizona region because multiple teams were not willing to participate any longer for various reasons, said Todd Mason, three-year coach for Prescott Youth Football.

And with that and the change back to NAF, players in Prescott looking to play football next fall no longer have equipment.

The organization now needs to purchase all the players new equipment including helmets, shoulder pads, pants, jerseys and first-aid kits. Prescott Youth Football also prides itself on being the only group in the league to invest in medical personnel that is present at all home games.

Mason said the overhaul presents a challenge for the organization since the cost to play youth football can be higher compared to other sports. Along with the regular sponsorship it receives from local businesses and nonprofit organizations, the group also is looking for donations that hopefully will alleviate some of the financial burden.

“We have been very fortunate to receive some really great sponsorship from local businesses and local nonprofits as we are a local nonprofit as well … but we couldn’t do it if we had the support of the community,” Mason said.

Due to this season’s circumstances, Mason also said most of the coaches have taken a more aggressive approach in community outreach, hoping to enlist more sponsorships and draw in more donations. While there isn’t a specific goal amount for the upcoming season, proceeds will also be allocated to scholarships that could be granted to players who qualify.

“There is a lot children up here that can’t afford to play football, so we also assign scholarships, and we never how many children that’s going to be each year,” Mason said. “So a lot of the money we have, besides going into new equipment, referees and medical personnel, we provide a scholarship for the children that qualify for hardship.”

With training camp approaching in the beginning of August, Mason emphasized the importance of Prescott Youth Football because of its mission to teach lessons even beyond the sport of football.

“We are very much about building character, integrity, hard work and all the values you need to succeed even outside of sports as well,” Mason said. “That is a huge part of what we preach. It’s not all about tackling and blocking, but about being a good teammates, working hard, giving it your best and just like with anything else, we always say, ‘School is first, football second.’”

Moreover, players who look to play at the next level can benefit from signing up with Prescott Youth Football because of the organization’s connection with the Prescott High School program and its varsity head coach, Cody Collett.

“We’re the feeder program for Prescott football, and I’ve talked with coach Collett and he’s getting very involved since he realizes the importance of his program relying on us getting kids to the next level with proper skills and techniques,” Mason said. “Football is huge if you’ve ever been on a Friday night at Prescott; there’s just nothing like and its amazing community feeling and it just makes the kids feel so special to wear that jersey to school on Fridays.”

HOW TO HELP

If one wishes to find out more information, donate, or volunteer their time, contact the group at prescottyouthfootball@gmail.com or Mason at tcmason4@gmail.com. Additionally, Prescott Youth Football is a 501(3)(c) organization, meaning donations are tax deductible.

One of the biggest fundraisers before the season kicks off is an event called “Jamboree” where teams gather at Pioneer Park to play scrimmage games while organization members sell concessions. No date has been set, but the event usually takes place toward the end of August.

Aaron Valdez is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier of Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter at @Valaaron_94. Email avaldez@prescottaz.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2031.

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