USA Football Master Trainers teaching skills, sharing knowledge

By Samuel Teets | Posted 4/29/2022

USA Football’s youth coach certification represents the pinnacle in coach education for holistic athlete and skill development. Many youth coaches access the certification online, but plenty take advantage of USA Football’s in-person certifications, led by a dedicated team of 39 Master Trainers, which includes top high school and youth coaches nationwide.

Directed by USA Football, Master Trainers teach dedicated men and women across the country who give their time and effort to coach youth and scholastic athletes. Since 2013, high school and youth football coaches in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. have completed more than 900,000 coach certifications.

“USA Football’s Master Trainers are exceptional teachers who guide America’s coaches on grassroots levels through our country’s best-in-class coach certification,” USA Football CEO & Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. “Their passion to teach football for the good of young players in a 21st century way is palpable and inspiring. None of them need resume fodder – they’re Master Trainers because they want the best for the kids who love to play the world’s greatest team sport.”

Master Trainers underwent their annual training from March 17-20 in Indianapolis, preparing for USA Football’s “coach training” season, which is now underway.  

“USA Football works hard to give coaches who are volunteering the support and training they need to do the very best they can with young people,” said Donald Davis, a Master Trainer and the head coach at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. He has 22 years of coaching experience and was the Maryland Coaches Association’s 2010 Coach of the Year. “That’s the part that excites me. We have the opportunity to support really good people. The vast majority of people who are volunteering or helping to coach high school and youth football are wonderful people who care about student athletes and want or need support.”

“Having played tackle football for 14 seasons, I saw a lot of injuries, and I saw potential for the game to be played in a safer manner,” explained Master Trainer Leah Hinkle, a two-time gold medal winner with the U.S. Women’s Tackle National Team (2013, 2017). “Our emphasis as Master Trainers is on making the game better and safer. I think football is a great game, and I want people to feel comfortable playing the sport. Putting a more conscious effort into minimizing injuries allows that to happen.”

Hinkle, who is the general manager of the Oregon Ravens in the Women's National Football Conference, views working as a Master Trainer as a way to stay connected to the sport she loves while paying forward the experiences and memories she’s made through football.

Hinkle, and many other Master Trainers, hope to create positive experiences for high school and youth coaches and their athletes by making the game safer.

“A lot of research and discussion went into developing techniques to keep the head and body in safe positions when initiating contact,” said National High School Hall of Fame Football Coach Chuck Kyle of Cleveland St. Ignatius High School. Kyle served as head coach of USA Football’s gold-medal-winning U.S. 19U Boys Tackle National Team in 2009 before becoming a Master Trainer. “Several coaches like myself felt the calling to help once those conversations started. We speak with new coaches and show them that football is a different game than it was 20 years ago. It’s a great opportunity for new coaches to grow and learn how to present important information to youth athletes with proper coaching methods.”

While teaching English and an elective class on the works of Shakespeare, Kyle has coached at his high school alma mater for 39 years, leading his Wildcats to 15 regional championships, 11 Ohio state titles, and three national championships.

“It’s very rewarding to see the young coaches get into the technique and see how they can teach it to young kids,” Kyle explained. “Seeing the willingness of young coaches to learn and make the game better is the most exciting thing about being a Master Trainer. The coaches getting into the technique, enjoying learning and teaching it, and realizing that they are the future of the game are the rewards for Master Trainers.”

2022 USA Football Master Trainers

Name; Residence; Affiliation

Jason French; San Diego, Calif.; FieldLevel, Inc.

Richard Jackson; El Cajon, Calif.; Madison High School

Darrell Sutherland; St. Augustine, Fla.; Bartram Trail High School

George Curry Jr.; Buford, Ga.; Kids & Pros, Inc.

David Klusacek; Oak Forest, Ill.; Former youth coach

Jake Gilbert; Westfield, Ind.; Westfield High School

Kurt Tippmann; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Snider High School

Aaron Sutton; Baton Rouge, La.; Madison Preparatory Academy

Scott Taylor; South Hadley, Mass.; South Hadley High School

Donald Davis; Elkridge, Md.; Sidwell Friends School

Kevin Lynott; Middletown, Md.; Former high school coach

Terry Donovan; Kasson, Minn.; La Crescent - Hokah High School

Mike Bellers; Cedar Hill, Mo.; Former high school coach

Chris Metzger; Pinehurst, N.C.; Montgomery Central

Rob Currin; Leray, N.Y.; Le Roy High School

Matthew Gallagher; Endwell, N.Y.; Maine-Endwell High School

Chuck Kyle; Westlake, Ohio; St. Ignatius High School

Leah Hinkle; Portland, Ore.; Oregon Ravens general manager

Terry Summerfield; Sandy, Ore.; Lakeridge High School

Donald Lindberger; Schwenksville, Pa.; Perkiomen Valley High School

Nick Marmo; New Castle, Pa.; Westminster College

Jimmy Wallace; Rock Hill, S.C.; Former high school coach

Ricky Upton Jr.; Maryville, Tenn.; Maryville Junior High

Cameron Campbell; Katy, Texas; Former high school coach and athletic director

John Furin III; Bedford, Texas; Former high school coach

Tiffany Hill; Fort Worth, Texas; Burleson Independent School District

Jeremiah Davis; Leesburg, Va.; Loudoun County High School

Jason Mohns; Scottsdale, Ari.; Saguaro High School

Troy Drayton; Plantation, Fla.; St. Thomas Aquinas High School

Peter Gibbs; Naples, Fla.; Golden Gate High School

Gary Swenson; Des Moines, Iowa; WDM Valley High School

Angellica Grayson; Leavenworth, Kan.; University of Saint Mary

John Roderique; Webb City, Mo.; Webb City High School

Chad Bartoszek; Salamanca, N.Y.; Salamanca High School

Vince DiGaetano; Oakdale, N.Y.; Fordham University

Steve Specht; Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Xavier High School

Willie Pile; Grapevine, Texas; FASST Performance & Fitness

Tom Bainter; Bothell, Wash.; Bothell High School

Michael Patterson; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Asociación de Futbol Americano del Estado de Coahuila AC

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