Oak Park River Forest Youth Football: Building Team Players through Teamwork

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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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Jenna Brown Russell  

Posted: July 4th, 2015 2:08 AM

Rates of concussive injury in minors from sports are second only to those sustained in motor vehicle accidents. Only those that can walk to practice should play. For the children.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: July 3rd, 2015 3:10 PM

Go get him, Hazel, we must disband the police and fire departments because of risk or death or injury to police and firefighters. The divers on the swim team must wear helmets. However no seat belts in school buses for the kids.Chuck Bednarchik was the last of the NFL players to play both offense and defense. Died in his 80s spoke clear as a bell.Play,sign the waiver or don't play.

Hazel Miller  

Posted: July 3rd, 2015 11:43 AM

The evidence is in for girls and boys soccer too. Are they not a liability? What about playgrounds and bicycles? What about trampolines? The danger argument bores me. People applauded football when an openly gay man joined a roster. Football will be applauded when a woman transitions to a man and joins a roster too. If you are worried about safety, parents/guardians go to usafootball.com and check out how different the game is being taught today. I forgot to mention for the Oak Park set about how this particular program is the most diverse (I know you love this word) sports program in the OPRF area.

Roger French from OP  

Posted: July 2nd, 2015 2:20 PM

The evidence is in . this activity. cannot be made safe for children. OPRFHS would be wise to disallow. we cannot afford the potential liability.

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