The Waukee Youth Football club located in Waukee, Iowa has earned Gold Level status through USA Football’s League Excellence Program for the 2021 season.
USA Football’s League Excellence Program is a way for youth football organizations to earn recognition for a commitment to raise operational standards and provide a great environment for athletes and their families.
Waukee has set an incredible standard for youth football. The club has over 800 kids in the program that span grades K-7 while playing three separate game types. With a total of 460 kids playing tackle across 15 teams, 120 kids split across eight teams playing padded flag, and another 240 kids playing flag spread across 18 teams, Waukee has a lot on its plate. The club manages it well thanks to current Vice-President Eric Ritzman and the rest of the board. Ritzman, now in his ninth year with Waukee, has continued to meet the high bar that they set for themselves each year.
“I was fortunate enough to help run an organization that has a great system in place.” Ritzman said.
The success of Waukee is more than just participation. The club also takes great pride in its player safety as well as skill development amongst their athletes.
“Player safety is our number one priority.” Ritzman added. “Keeping our parents in the loop as well as helping them along with the progression of our game types is something we see as really beneficial to all.”
Waukee ran a third game type called padded flag, which is a form of limited contact, for the first time this season. Limited Contact is a great way to introduce contact football skills without going to the ground. Some athletes start in flag before advancing to Limited Contact, while others start here prior to proceeding to full contact. The goal is to develop young players' skills and keep the sport fun.
“By adding padded flag, we found the market for the proper way to progress kids to tackle.” Ritzman said.
Coaching certification is another great tool that Waukee uses to commit to player safety.
“For us, we ask that all coaches are certified to step on the field.” Ritzman added. “It lays a great foundation for newer coaches and helps remind tenured coaches that there are proper ways to do things.”
The club also has a great relationship with its local community. With “Waukee Football Night” at the local high school, to scholarship opportunities for kids that succeed on and off the field Waukee contributes and gives a lot back to its community.
Trusting another set of adults with your child takes a leap of faith. USA Football’s League Finder helps parents find leagues nearby that are working hard to improve the athlete experience.
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