Texas Youth Club Earns Gold Level Status in USA Football Program

By Jacob Letourneau | Posted 12/14/2021

The All-American Youth Football & Drill Team (AAYDFT) has been an institution in Texas youth football since its inception in 1974. The league is comprised of nine clubs spanning three school districts across Southeast Texas. 

All nine clubs 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 league sets a high bar in serving its young athletes, ranging in age from 7-12. AAYDFT Athletic Director Melissa Gabriel oversees the league, which encompasses nine teams. 

Klein Oilers
Pictured: Klein Oilers

The organization promotes player skill development and safety in multiple ways, including the use of TackleBar equipment during practices to teach tackling while keeping their players on their feet. “We’re setting the foundation of how to play, how to block, how to do the small things, so that when our kids get older, they are fully prepared.” Gabriel said. 

The organization carries strong polices and expectations for its coaches. “Our coaches cannot step on a field without USA Football Certification and a background check,” Gabriel added. 

Delivering exceptional youth football experiences for more than 45 years, the organization’s success is generational. Gabriel notes that a number of parents of the league’s players today are proud AAYFDT alumni who enjoy seeing their kids have fun in the sport and gain its inherent benefits.

That bond with the community has led the organization to create tremendous opportunities for kids. This past season the league hosted a one-day camp with each team running their own station. “With the money raised, we were able to pay for 17 players to play” Gabriel said. 

How does USA Football help your club deliver great experiences for your kids?  

Klein Bengals Commissioner Cara O’Leary 
“USA Football provides our coaches and athletic directors a solid training on both safety and coaching. This solid training allows novice coaches, as well as experienced coaches, the opportunity to provide our players a great experience safely.”

Tomball Patriots Commissioner Leticia Sanchez
“USA football has created an amazing structure of rules and regulation to help our club be family friendly and an enjoyable experience for our children.  The etiquette that USA football has created, helps build the foundation for sportsmanship and sport fundamentals, one of our club’s primary missions.”

Klein Eagles President Adam Wells 
“USA Football is an organization that supports local football clubs by providing resources that promote and encourage the development of the fundamentals of success such as discipline, teamwork, and ethics for our boys and girls.  Our high-quality staff benefits from the resources and training available through USA Football to ensure the growth and development of our communities current and future leaders, athletes, and members of our community while balancing a safe and competitive environment.”

What do you believe makes your club special? 

Klein Texans Commissioner Ryan Eiermann
“Our organization is fully committed to the success of our kids both on and off the field.  We feel that we have a responsibility to be honorable role models and impart a lasting positive experience through athletics, and that ultimately they will be more successful adults as a result of their participation.”

Klein Oilers Commissioner Mat Hechler
“Our organization has been around since the 80s, many of the parents played as kids on the Oilers or Cheered as a Derrick Doll, now their kids are.  The bonds that have been built and sense of community in such a large city is very special.  We are one large family”

Klein Rams Commissioner Kristin Clifton
“The Klein Rams and Sweethearts are one of the original clubs of AAYFDT. Family is very important to us and plays a big role in our club. Families come as flag and stay through senior year building strong bonds between the players, drill girls and the parents. Those relationships last for the years to come. Our past and current Rams families as well as the entire AAYFDT league came together to support us when we had a player suddenly passed away 2 seasons ago. #5strong”

Conroe Grizzlies Vice President Katie Frazier 
“I think the most amazing thing about the Grizzlies that sets us apart from other teams is the relationship we have with our local community. Since our team began, we have been known as the Saints, until this last year that is... We had a new high school open in our area and most of our players are in the feeder zone for Grand Oaks High School. We began to form a relationship with the junior high and the high school coaches and decided if there were football Grizzlies of junior high and high school age why not have "Little Grizzlies". This prompted us to change our name to align with our community! Our little grizzly coaches are now working alongside the high school coaches in teaching the kids plays and skills that they will learn at a young age and can take all the way up through high school with them! We are Grizzly Nation!”

Tell me about your club’s relationship with your community.

Tomball Redcats Vice President Christi Priddy 
“Our mission is to implant firmly in the youth of the community the ideals of good sportsmanship, honesty, loyalty and courage so that they may be finer, stronger, healthier and happier youths who may reflect credit upon themselves, their parents and their community. Tomball Redcats and SophistiKats rely heavily on community involvement and encourage our players and families to give back to their community as well. The Tomball Redcats participate in numerous community events including, The Mayor's Cup Game (mayor attends games and presents the Mayor's Cup Trophy to the winning teams), Tomball HS Homecoming Parade, Future Cougar Night with the community high school varsity team, as well as community parade involvement (Highschool Homecoming and Thanksgiving Day Parade). Community involvement truly is the core of our organization.” 

Klein Broncos President Paige Edwards 
We work hard to make sure that we have a genuine connection to our community.  Having that tie to the people around us is what makes the experience even more special for our kids. Our community also has a great hand in the success for us as an organization, and without them we wouldn’t be where we are today.


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.

Find a league near you that puts athletes first.