Dads Unite for Youth Football
By Larry Atseff
Every year, thousands of families across the western suburbs enroll their boys in youth tackle football as part of the Bill George Youth Football League. They are taught by their Dads who have played college and even pro football, as well as other Dads and other members of the community who just want to help out. This has been going on for years, until last year when the pandemic hit, and everything got cancelled. Knowing the players would be disappointed, five Dads and one Mom decided to join forces to keep many of the teams playing, including James Brady, Hinsdale, Brian Lansu, Downers Grove, Brandon Lane and John Herrara, Wheaton, Mario Florio, Lombard, and Kelly Grigus, LaGrange. They figured out how to start up a 7-on-7 passing league that would meet Covid-19 protocols, have legal standing/proper insurance, provide uniforms, complete with practice fields, and play a full schedule of games at Montini Catholic High School and Immaculate Conception Catholic Prep fields through last fall.
The league, called the West Suburban Football Club, focused on preparing 7th and 8th grade boys for high school football. According to Brady, it was amazing to see how many sons signed up as well as how many Dads signed up to coach. In Hinsdale, players from the local youth football program—the Hinsdale Falcons—combined with St. Isaac Jogues players and together, like all the other teams, they practiced on a regular basis and then each played a full schedule of eight 7-on-7 passing scrimmages last Fall. This spring, Illinois government officials finally gave the “green light” to allow boys to participate in traditional tackle football. So once again, the Dads and Mom behind the West Suburban Football Club stepped up to organize a tackle football season for 8th graders in the western suburbs. In a few short weeks, countless volunteers came together and 18 teams were formed (including two teams from Hinsdale) to participate in a six-game tackle football season. In Hinsdale, team organizers James Brady and Kristen Kruse worked to bring together as many Falcons and St. Isaac Jogues players as possible with the goal of preparing every single boy willing to participate for high school football. And to help, quite a few Dads and other volunteers in the community stepped up to help coach the Hinsdale teams, including quite a few former professional and college football players.
“While this ‘bridge’ effort turned out to be a lot of extra work, everyone stuck with the program. And, in fact, more Dads than usual have turned out. It’s what Dads (and Moms) do. It has been worth the effort.”
In particular, the Hinsdale coaches who played in college include James Brady, Devin Brady, Kris Bjorson, Jeff Lesniewicz, Matt Riordan, and Jacob White, and the coaches who played in the National Football League include Pete Bercich, Jason Buck, and Mike McCurry. Other Dads coaching include Dave Alessi, Joe Corcoran, Jim Deering, Dan Devine, Mike Murray, and Pat McInerney. There is hope that both Falcons players and St. Isaac Jogues players will continue to practice together this summer and play in games together this fall. Practices are starting up and the league is putting the call out for signing up. Go to www.hinsdalefalcons.com to learn more and follow the teams when the games startup. Brady sums it up this way. “While this ‘bridge’ effort turned out to be a lot of extra work, everyone stuck with the program. And, in fact, more Dads than usual have turned out. It’s what Dads (and Moms) do. It has been worth the effort.”
*Photos by James Brady