OPRF Huskie Youth Football Program is gearing up for the fall football season and working to mold the next generation of scholar athletes. Chris Guillen, coach and board member, loves the sport of football and says the OPRF Youth Football program encompasses much more than athletics.

“Our program really promotes the positives, with a focus on three areas: sportsmanship, respect and teamwork.”

Serving children ages 6 through 14, the program aims to teach life skills through the game of football. As players improve and develop their techniques on the field, they also benefit from the structure of the sport. Coaches stress the importance of school work and balancing academics, practices and games.

Safety always comes first. OPRF Youth Football is part of The Chicagoland Youth Football League and follows strict league protocols when it comes to safety. Trainers are on the field during each game to ensure that any injury is treated appropriately. All coaches go through training through USA Football and are taught to take every precaution when it comes to player safety.

Players develop a number of skills on the field. The athletic development side of the league is designed to bring out the best in each child. Practices are designed to develop both mental and physical skills in each player.

Through practices that entail stretching, warm-ups, cardio work and learning plays, the players learn the importance of training, teamwork and consistency. Weekly games, with home games played on Sundays on the OPRF field, give players the chance to develop competitive attitudes and tight connections with teammates.

Players form bonds with their teammates and learn to support each other, with the recognition that every child, no matter his size or playing ability has a place on the field. Every player on the field matters on every play.

The benefits of youth football last a lifetime. At the end of the day, some players from OPRF Youth Football may go on to play in football programs in college, but every player comes away with a stronger character. The friendships and life lessons of teamwork and balance continue to benefit the players throughout high school and beyond.

Dan Reinhardt, Equipment Manager and Vice President of the program, says the intangibles may be more important than the sport itself. “Of course, when our boys move on and go to high school, there’s the obvious: we like to think we’re giving the high school a good football player. What we really try to do is give the high schools good citizens. These kids know the right thing to do in football and in life. Not all of our kids go on to play in high school, but they all are better people because they learned confidence, respect and how to stand up for what is right and what is wrong.”

OPRF Youth Football is currently forming teams for the fall season. Registration information is available at www.oprfyf.org. The season begins July 27 with a week of conditioning, weekday practices through August and opening weekend on the weekend of August 30. Practices and home games take place on the athletic fields of Oak Park River Forest High School.

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