Published in the January 3, 2018 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — A new youth football organization has been formed.
In an interview with the Villager, Lynnfield Pioneer Youth Football and Cheer (LPYFC) President Steven Connolly said the new youth sports league formed in the fall “when it became apparent that LYFC (Lynnfield Youth Football and Cheerleading) would not allow new membership within its board.”
The Attorney General’s office is currently investigating the financial records of LYFC. According to a copy of a written compliant filed, the Attorney General’s office was requested to investigate LYFC President Wayne Shaffer, LYFC Vice President Steve Berardino, former Selectman and LYFC President Tom Terranova and LYFC Treasurer Jit Lee Billings. The AG’s office has not issued a report on the allegations.
LYFC held two separate annual meetings last August. After the first meeting was held on Aug. 7, where a group of new board members were elected, LYFC attorney Bradford Keene issued a legal opinion stating the meeting was invalid. Tensions ran high at another annual meeting on Aug. 30 after a number of parents were prevented from attending.
“After two failed attempts at annual meetings in August, a group of parents got together and made the decision to form a new youth football program for Lynnfield,” said Connolly. “New bylaws, policies and procedures, and an official 501(c)3 organization have been created, along with all of the necessary paperwork and requirements at the state and federal level.”
In addition to Connolly serving as the new league’s president, the rest of the LPYFC board consists of vice president David Capachietti, treasurer Lauren George, secretary Kimberly Brown and director Rebecca Drzewiczewski. Capachietti, George, Brown and Drzewiczewski were elected to LYFC’s board of directors on Aug. 7 before the election was voided.
Connolly said LPYFC’s board is “represented equally by folks on the football side as well as the cheer side.”
“It’s great to have such interested and vested coaches and parents in the program,” said Connolly.
Connolly said LYFC and the Cape Ann Youth Football League (CAYFL) have both been informed about the new league that has been established.
“CAYFYL has been very receptive and has invited us to their next monthly board meeting in January to begin planning the 2018 season,” said Connolly. “We have been in contact with LYFC and are attempting to meet with them to talk about the 2018 season. But with the holidays, it’s been difficult to coordinate schedules.”
Connolly said, “The new league will undertake efforts to procure equipment.”
“First, we wish to meet with the LYFC program,” said Connolly. “In addition, several interested coaches are attending the USA Youth Football Conference in Orlando, Florida later this winter, which has great programs instructing on everything from running youth football leagues to implementing effective offenses. There will be ample opportunities to speak with vendors about equipment.”
Connolly said LPYFC will begin its registration program this winter in order to “allow kids to register early.”
“We will have events for the kids in the summer as well as fundraising opportunities for the new league for both cheering and football participants,” said Connolly.
While the new league is still in its infancy, Connolly said it has been well received by parents looking for a change.
“Many of the parents wanted to move forward with a new league and were eager to see new involvement on the LYFC board,” said Connolly. “When that option didn’t pan out, parents were eager to understand what was going to happen. It’s important to note that while this league was created in the fall, we intentionally were quiet about the league being formed during the youth football season. All of the new board members wanted to focus on the current season and make sure it was enjoyable for the participants, and ensure that there was no confusion with parents during the season. Recent reaction has been very positive from the parents’ perspective.”
When asked why he believes the new youth football and cheerleading league needed to be formed, Connolly said: “Every youth sports board that I have been a part of has open elections with members chosen from parents that want to help deliver a great program to their kids and the town of Lynnfield. I was on the board of Lynnfield Youth Soccer Club for nearly nine years, and currently serve on the Lynnfield Little League board. I have been involved with youth sports since my early 20’s and the programs that I’ve been involved with succeeded due to involvement of the entire town and a fully invested group of adults willing to give their time and their attention to kids. We weren’t seeing that (with LYFC) and we felt the easiest path forward was to develop and launch a new program.”
Connolly said the “the purpose of LPYFC is to foster, encourage and promote the playing of the sports of football and cheerleading for the children of the residents of Lynnfield and to develop and promote the qualities of physical fitness, competitive spirit, team play, loyalty and good sportsmanship in those who participate in the program.”
“I’d say that our program’s goal is to teach the great game of football to our town’s youth that allows them to excel at the game in a safe manner,” added Connolly. “For our cheerleaders, it’s to give cheerleaders an environment to learn, achieve and compete in a safe manner. We have a lot of fantastic kids in the program and a wonderful group of coaches with both the cheer program and the football players.”
Connolly said LPYFC’s registration will be open this winter, and a message will be sent to parents, posted on social media and will be published in local newspapers. Additionally, Connolly said an informational meeting about the program will be held on Thursday, Jan. 11 at St. Maria Goretti Church’s basement, beginning at 7 p.m.
“This will be an informational meeting for parents and members to ask questions about the new organization,” said Connolly. “We will also be delivering information about the new organization regarding available board positions that will be coming up in our annual election on Jan. 25.”
The election will take place at St. Maria Goretti Church’s basement on Thursday, Jan. 25, beginning at 7 p.m.
“This meeting will serve as the program’s annual meeting, where a board of directors will be voted on and confirmed, and plans for the upcoming season will be discussed,” said Connolly.
Connolly said LPYFC’s goal is “to be as transparent as possible with the operation of the league.”
“Communication will be continuous throughout the offseason,” said Connolly.