PC Paterson Wildcats Youth Football and Cheerleading Program Earns Gold Level Status in USA Football Program 

By Samuel Teets | Posted 12/12/2023

The PC Paterson Wildcats Youth Football and Cheerleading Program located in Paterson, N.J. has earned Gold Level status through USA Football’s League Excellence Program for the 2023 season.     

USA Football’s League Excellence Program is a way for youth football organizations to earn recognition for their commitment to raising operational standards and providing a great environment for athletes and their families.    

The Wildcats exist to promote community citizenship, teamwork, good sportsmanship, dedication and physical and mental development through healthy organized competition. The program, which is part of the All-County Youth Football League, serves young athletes from third through eighth grade, offering cheerleading, girls’ flag football, boys’ flag football and tackle football at several levels.  

“The All-County Youth Football Program allows student athletes from the city of Paterson, New Jersey to participate and compete at a high level in a healthy environment,” explained PC Paterson Wildcats Director Rahsaan Johnson, who also serves as a coach. “The league is successful because of the leadership that has been put in place. Integrity and honesty are what I see being practiced yearly within this league.” 

Johnson emphasized how he and roughly two dozen volunteers with the Wildcats approach teaching their athletes and giving them the trust and tools to succeed.   

“There are 25-28 volunteers in our program. Our volunteers agree that youth football, or any youth sport, helps create a better, healthier community,” Johnson said. “Our volunteers preach good sportsmanship, teamwork and most importantly, education. We believe every child has a dream. It is on the adult to assist with making that dream come true.” 

The PC Paterson Wildcats consistently strive for excellence as they continue to work toward the highest standards in youth football. They earned Silver Level status through the League Excellence Program in 2022 before reaching Gold Level this year.  

“USA Football’s League Excellence Program gives our coaches and staff direction and support,” said Johnson. “It’s a checklist of things we need to do, which helps us run a top-notch program. All our coaches are certified through USA Football and CPR certified. Those certifications are very important in today’s ever-changing landscape. Parents depend on and trust us with their children 6-7 months out of the year, and they should be safe.” 

In their pursuit of player safety, the PC Paterson Wildcats previously applied for and received a grant through USA Football that helped purchase helmets and shoulder pads to update their equipment. This approach toward maintaining equipment and focusing on player safety is a hallmark of a premier, Gold Level program.  

USA Football seeks to support outstanding programs like PC Paterson Wildcats Youth Football through its grants program, Coach Certification and additional resources available to enrolled organizations

While reflecting on his eight years with the program, Johnson shared the inspirational story of a young athlete who developed on and off the field throughout his time with the Wildcats.  

“My most inspirational moment was watching a young eight-year-old who was brought to practice the first day by his mom, who is a single parent. This eight-year-old young man played with the grass and chased butterflies his first two years of playing tackle football. He wasn’t confident in himself, and we weren’t quite sure how or if he would become a football player,” Johnson said. “Over the last three years, I have witnessed the same young man grow into a confident student athlete. He puts schoolwork first and has come to love football. He doesn’t miss any practices and has developed into a good, dependable football player. I know in my heart what we are building and doing is working. We are sending our kids to high school where they are getting a valued education, and they are competing on the football field.” 

Johnson and his fellow volunteers have true passions for coaching and developing outstanding student athletes. The program director shared some parting thoughts on USA Football and the joys of coaching and helping young members of the community.  

“USA Football sets the standard that every youth football organization should follow. As coaches or adults, we seem to forget why we volunteer our time,” Johnson said. “It’s a true joy to watch a child score his first touchdown and run to his or her parents at the end of the game. It’s a true joy to watch our coaches become more than a coach to our student athletes. A coach in our community is not just a coach. For some, we have become a father figure, friend, teacher, confidant and problem solver. It’s a true joy to assist a kid who is going through a tough time and teach them how to handle adversity off the field and on. Having a healthy and growing program that puts families and student athletes first is something to be proud of.” 

Congratulations to the PC Paterson Wildcats Youth Football and Cheerleading Program on another successful year and its Gold Level status.