In its second year of operation, the West Michigan Youth Football League (WMYF) is a collaboration of local football programs. Lowell, Rockford, Northview, Caledonia, East Grand Rapids, and East Kentwood make up the league. Participants learn good sportsmanship and basic fundamentals in a safe and fun environment.
The Lowell Youth Football League (LYFL) began in 1969 and was previously part of the Northern Rocket Football League. But the creation of WMYF allowed coaches to have more control over scheduling and games are within a closer vicinity to those participating.
The youth league consists of three programs. The first is flag football and cheer for ages 4-7. The next level is tackle football and cheer for those in grades 3-7. Finally 8th grade football rounds things out. High school teams offer guidance allowing for those involved in the youth program to transition smoothly to the high school level. “The youth program is a strong foundation for the high school program. What we try to do is build the love for the game, make sure that the kids have fun, enjoy the game and learn the core principles of hard work and dedication.” says Field Director Bob Nichols.
Cheer Director Michele Schilling approached the league in 2013 asking if a cheer component could be added. She felt the team aspect was important to offer to girls as well. She feels cheerleading builds a “strong self-confidence and develops leadership skills”. Schilling indicates, “I think those two traits are life skills that every child needs.“
Cheer was added to the league in 2014 with cheerleaders just for the flag football program. A new level has been added each year to match up with the football programs allowing those in kindergarten through 8th grade to cheer on the football players. “There is just something special about being at a football game with cheerleaders and the team spirit atmosphere it brings for the spectators and fans.” says Schilling.
It’s also important for those participating in cheer to be community pride. The cheerleaders also make locker signs for players, participate in local parades, and will be hosting their first annual pep rally in August.
Numbers and Dates
In 2016 a total of 35 cheerleaders and 430 football players participated across the three programs. The league is a non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers. A background check is performed on all coaches and volunteers. All coaches are required to complete a training course on concussions as well. The league prides itself on the safety of participants.
Practice starts mid to late August with games beginning the first week in September. The season wraps up the last week in October. The flag program has four games while the two tackle programs compete in eight games.
Registration is currently open for the fall season. The early discounted rate runs from now until June 30. July 1-31 is considered regular registration and August 1-11 is late registration. Current early registration for flag football is $30, grades 3-7 can register for $55, and 8th grade students will pay $65 for the season. Cheerleading for flag football is currently $30 and $55 for the other two programs. Register at the Lowell Youth Football webpage early to save!
Heading into Fall
Some new things will be happening with the start of the fall season. Football players will sport new game jerseys. Burch Field, where home games are played, will have a newly installed electronic scoreboard thanks to generous donors. Finally, but most exciting is the first annual pep rally to be held on August 24. The cheerleaders for the tackle football programs will host the event where not only players, coaches, and parents are welcome but the entire Lowell community.
The Lowell Youth Football League is also introducing a sponsorship program. Any businesses or families who are interested in supporting the efforts of the league can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
The same email address can be used to send inquiries about the football and cheer programs. LYFL is currently accepting registration information for both football and cheer programs. The fall season will kick off with a pep rally on August 24.
Photos by Lowell Youth Football League and used with permission.