Published in the January 17, 2018 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Over 30 parents attended an informational meeting hosted by Lynnfield Pioneer Youth Football and Cheer (LPYFC) at St. Maria Goretti Church on Thursday, Jan. 11.
LPYFC President Steven Connolly said the organization was incorporated on Oct. 19, 2017.
“We have a significant amount of work to do as a new organization,” said Connolly. “We have to appoint additional people to the board, do fundraising, and make sure we are all set with CAYFL (Cape Ann Youth Football League) and Lynnfield Youth Football and Cheerleading (LYFC).”
Connolly said LPYFC formed in the wake of local parents experiencing “a difficult time with Lynnfield Youth Football and Cheerleading last summer.” After new members were elected to LYFC’s board of directors on Aug. 7, 2017, LYFC attorney Bradford Keene issued a legal opinion stating the meeting was invalid and voided the election results. Tensions ran high at another annual meeting on Aug. 30, 2017 after a number of parents were prevented from attending while legatees, police officers working details and attorneys representing LYFC were allowed in.
“That just seemed wrong,” said Connolly.
After attempting to work with LYFC, Connolly said several people decided “to put together a new organization and see how we could move forward positively for all of the kids in town interested in playing football or cheerleading.”
“We purposely tried to meet quietly because we didn’t want to create a distraction,” said Connolly.
Connolly said LPYFC’s 501(c)(3) paperwork is “in the works” and anticipates the Internal Revenue Service will issue a determination ruling in the spring. He also said the organization has received its Massachusetts solicitation paperwork.
“We are trying to make ourselves as legitimate as possible,” said Connolly.
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 cheer director Rebecca Drzewiczewski. Connolly said LPYFC will be holding its annual meeting on Thursday, Jan. 25, beginning at 7 p.m. at St. Maria Goretti Church.
“When deciding how we were going to structure this organization, we were pretty firm in saying it just can’t be the other board members who are up for election,” said Connolly. “It really has to be all of us. After being in the program for a few months, we are putting ourselves up for election again. Hopefully we will be able to get elected back into the program. We are pretty firmly committed to this program and the idea that parents can be involved in this program more than just watching their kids from the sideline.”
In addition to the LPYFC board of directors consisting of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and cheerleading director, the board will have a football director, director of player safety, equipment director, communications director, fundraising director and a director of fields and facilities. If people are interested in running for a position on the board, Connolly said people should send an email to admin@LynnfieldPioneerYFC.com.
“We are looking for people to help us,” said Connolly. “All of the people who want to be board members need to be members of the league. And by members, we basically mean parents of players. This year is a bit of an odd duck because we officially have no players. We made a special clause that any parent of a cheerleader or football player last season, they are a member of Lynnfield Pioneer Youth Football and Cheer. If you were a coach and didn’t have a child in the program, you are also a member by our bylaws. We also made accommodations in our bylaws to recognize people who want to volunteer but may not be a coach or a parent. If you want to contribute to the program in a meaningful way, we are going to consider you a member.”
In response to a question from a man in the audience, Connolly said LPYFC officials prefer people sending the organization an email if they want to run for a seat on the board.
“We want to have a record of things because we want the organization to be transparent,” said Connolly. “If you are interested and if you have experience or passion, please sign up.”
LPYFC Treasurer Lauren George said people can run as write-in candidates if people decide to run for a seat on the board late in the game.
CAYFL accepts league
Connolly said he met with CAYFL (Cape Ann Youth Football) representatives on Wednesday, Jan. 10. He noted 15 communities are members of CAYFL including Lynnfield.
“Our first major goal was making sure CAYFL was going to accept us because a team without a league is kind of useless,” said Connolly. “We had multiple discussions with CAYFL both privately and publicly, and they have recognized the Lynnfield Pioneer Youth Football and Cheer organization as an official entity.”
Cheer Director Rebecca Drzewiczewski noted LPYFC’s cheerleading program was also accepted by CAYFL. Connolly added that CAYFL “admits towns into the league” as opposed to teams.
“CAYFL was pretty clear to us they can’t remove LYFC from the league, but ultimately one program will be involved with CAYFL,” said Connolly.
Connolly said LPYFC has reached out to LYFC President Wayne Shaffer to talk about the 2018 season, but said Shaffer has not spoken with LPYFC board members.
“We have tried, but we have not had any engagement,” said Connolly. “Wayne has a fantastic amount of institutional knowledge. We would certainly love to work with him to transition LYFC players and equipment to the Lynnfield Pioneer Youth Football and Cheer program.”
Connolly noted the new league is going to hold fundraisers in order to purchase equipment. He said some members of the new organization will be attending the USA Youth Football Conference in Orlando, Florida later this month in order to learn how to “plan a town football program.”
“There are a couple hundred vendors down there who are more than willing to sell equipment for kids across the board to a town like Lynnfield,” said Connolly.
Connolly said LPYFC will begin registering players for the program in early February. LPYFC Vice President David Capachietti added the program’s registration fees will the same as LYFC’s fees last year, which is $300 for football players and $200 for cheerleaders. He noted LYFC’s fees are the second highest in CAYFL, and LPYFC hopes to lower the registration fees in the future.
“We are not going to hike it up because we need equipment,” said Capachietti. “We don’t want to put that burden on the parents of the players, but we do have to keep it around the same and then we can then tailor it down.”
Additionally, Connolly said LPYFC will be looking to find corporate sponsors to support the program. He also said the new league is looking to hold different fundraisers such as a home run derby and football-related fundraisers that can involve children.
“The things we do for fundraisers will make the program successful mostly from an equipment perspective, tools we can give coaches and things we can do on the cheer side,” said Connolly.
Connolly encouraged people interested in coaching to reach out to LPYFC.
Brown said the organization’s website can be found at https://lynnfie3w3ldpioneeryfc.com/. Connolly noted the meeting was video tapped, and will be posted on YouTube.
Parents express support
Lowell Street resident Dan Tammaro thanked the LPYFC members for starting the new organization.
“I grew up in Lynnfield and was captain of the high school football team,” said Tammaro. “I love the game and I wanted my kids to play, but they didn’t until last year because of all the noise. I want to thank you for doing this quietly, quickly and getting us to this point now so we can move forward.”
A father in the audience thanked the league’s board members “for everything you have done behind the scenes to get us to this point.” He inquired when is the deadline for CAFYL to decide which league moves forward.
Connolly believes the deadline for teams to be submitted to CAYFL is mid July.
“The earlier we can submit registration information that satisfies league requirements, the more likely it becomes a non-issue,” said Connolly.
In response to a question from a woman in the audience, Connolly said LPYFC has information about different coaches but not players. Brown and Drzewiczewski each said they have notified cheerleading coaches about the new league.
“The only audience we have not communicated with is next year’s first-year players,” added Connolly.
In response to a question from Tammaro, Fields Director Joe Maney, who attended the meeting as the father of a daughter who wants to join the cheerleading program, said the deadline to obtain field permits is July 15.