Teaching Skills that Go Beyond the Field
Writer // Janelle Morrison Photography // Courtesy of ZYFL
The Zionsville Youth Football League (ZYFL) welcomes its new president, Andrew Manna. Manna, a Zionsville resident, is the immediate past-president of the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce and is a partner with Church, Church, Hittle + Antrim. Excited for ZYFL’s 2019 season, Manna has expressed a genuine passion for youth sports and coaching and the multifarious benefits they have on the local community.
ZYFL was established in 1994 and has proven to be a successful developmental feeder system for the Zionsville Middle and High School athletic programs. The mission of the ZYFL is to help its players learn and enjoy the game of football, develop their athletic skills and build character through hard work, fair competition, sportsmanship and teamwork.
The ZYFL is organized into Rec Football, Travel Football and Cheerleading. ZYFL’s Cheerleading program is supervised by Natalie Ostrom.
We sat down with Manna to discuss ZYFL’s mission and some of its goals that he would like to see achieved during his term.
“We will kick-off, pun intended, 2019 with a ZYFL Board Retreat to talk about our goals for the years ahead,” Manna shared. “We have opportunities to expand and engage our community, which we hope to achieve through parent community informational meetings.”
“Football is one of the few sports that you absolutely have to engage every player on the field to work as part of a team,” Manna shared. “Eleven players must understand that they all serve a crucial part of executing a plan to achieve a goal. For young people, the friendships and fun that they will have together last a lifetime. I still remember the friendships developed at an early age and the overall physical work it took to be a football player. As a team, ZYFL expects sportsmanship from our players, which develops the players personally.”
In addition to the community involvement throughout 2019, Manna said that the ZYFL Board wants it to be a year of new experiences for its families as well. He also mentioned that the organization has reached out to current and former NFL players/coaches to help promote the sport of football.
“We want siblings, grandparents and loved ones across the country to follow ZYFL and their special player,” Manna emphasized. “We will have a revamped website, fan experiences at the games and social media updates. We partner with the Indianapolis Colts for several opportunities during the season for our players/cheerleaders to visit the Colts facility and to play on the field during a Colts game.”
Providing opportunities for engagement and promoting active lifestyles for Zionsville’s youth is a priority for Manna and the entire ZYFL organization.
“I have admired our other community partners who bring kids onto the playing field for other sports like soccer and baseball instead of sitting at home playing video games,” he stated. “One quote that I heard recently is that football is a much better alternative than sitting at home eating sugar and developing diabetes. ZYFL wants to be in the discussion for parents as a healthy alternative for your kids to be engaged and active.”
Manna shared that ZYFL traditionally starts the pre-season training with a mid-July camp put on by the high school coaches.
“Registration will have an early bird pricing this year to give everyone plenty of notice and opportunity to get registered early,” Manna explained. “In addition, [Zionsville High School Football Head] Coach Pat Echeverria will organize a spring flag passing league to work on plays, passing, running and football skills. This will be the second year, and last year during the first spring season, we had over a 100 kids participate. We are hoping to repeat that number and get kids excited in the spring about upcoming fall registration.”
Coach Echeverria sits on ZYFL’s Board and, according to Manna, guides the program from a perspective of what ZYFL wants the players to learn as they progress into Echeverria’s high school program.
Manna shared, “The volunteer coaches and Board work on an annual fundraising campaign to help refurbish equipment, purchase uniforms and pay for the costs of Grades 2-6 to participate in football.”
Off the field, coaches are required to engage in safety training through the USA Football Heads Up program. This is a nationally recognized standard for training coaches. Each coach is required to annually renew their training on topics like First Aid, proper blocking/tackling techniques and overall player management. ZYFL’s Equipment Team keeps its helmets, shoulder pads and football gear updated with the latest technology.
The season kicks off the same weekend as the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce Street Dance Saturday, August 3, 2019. “ZYFL joined the Chamber as a Member in 2018, and we anticipate participating in more community events, such as Brick Street Market and Christmas in the Village,” Manna concluded. “We want to expose the young people to civic/community volunteer activities but also show the community how positive football is through our contributions. So, in 2019, expect to see more evidence of Zionsville embracing football.”
Watch for dates on zyfl.net or on ZYFL’s social media: Twitter @zyfleagle or Facebook. For inquiries about ZYFL, email Andrew Manna at [email protected]. ZYFL is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your donations and sponsorships are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.