Michigan Youth Club Earns Gold Level Status in USA Football Program

By Jacob Letourneau | Posted 12/10/2021

The St. Joseph Rockets located in St. Joseph, Michigan have earned Gold Level status through USA Football’s League Excellence Program for the 2021 season.

USA Football’s League Excellence Program is a system by which youth football organizations can earn recognition for their commitment to raise operational standards and provide a great environment for athletes and their families. 

The Organization celebrated its 46th season this past year and has created and maintained a high bar not only for youth football in their community, but across the country. The organization is led by Vice-President and coach Jason LeClear.

St. Joseph Rockets
Pictured: St. Joseph Rockets


LeClear, now in his 7th season with the St Joe Bears Youth Program, has helped to develop an organization that prides itself on providing the best experience for their kids.

President and former coach Michelle Kerns has worked with SJRF for 15 years and has done a tremendous job of transitioning the organization behind the scenes, building structure and leadership to those who serve.

Along with Michelle the club has a fantastic staff that has helped create what St. Joseph youth football looks like today. With Catie Brown Busch their marketing director, Sandy Ruppel their field director, to Andrew Pratley their Varsity coach and so many others that continue to help the growth of the organization on and off the field. 

The club provides quality football for just over 200 kids across multiple game types including both flag and tackle. 

“We have seen a ton of great work with the continuation and expansion as well with our flag program lead by Matt Koch. This has truly been a great funnel for not just players but coaches as well for our tackle program. Even with the pandemic, we’ve grown as an organization and had our largest turnout this year.” LeClear added. 

Since there is more to the organization than just participation, the organization believes in raising the bar for player safety and player development. Four years ago, the club implemented medical staff on the sidelines for all games. This has removed the coaches from making the decisions for return to play.

“Keeping the kids safe is in the forefront of every decision we make as an organization.” LeClear said. “Investing not only in good equipment but making sure that our coaches are knowledgeable and certified is key."

Being certified through USA Football is a requirement for all the coaches in the Rockets organization Along with certification, the club also holds coaches’ clinics so that their coaches have a full grasp of their operation before starting a season.

As an alum of St. Joseph youth football, LeClear speaks very highly of the community that surrounds the program as well.

“Community support down to our youth level, is excellent, and they believe in what we’re doing.” LeClear added. “Our community is the reason we are so successful, they enable us to provide the best care for the kids.”

“We’ve developed a culture of family that has bonded our community and also helps our players to mature not only into great players, but great people.” LeClear said. 

Below is a Parent Survey Data and Verbatim, provided by St. Joseph Youth Football:

Please rate your overall experience with St. Joe Rocket Football
How well did the coaching staff help your player develop a love for the game of football?
The coaches held practices that were organized.
How well did the coaching staff teach football fundamentals?

*Graphs were not provided or completed by USA Football.



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