By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO The players, cheerleaders and coaches in the Monticello Area Youth Football and Cheerleading Organization (MAFCO) are gearing up for the 2011 season.
Since Aug. 1, they have been practicing five days a week for the new gridiron season.
There are about 130 players and cheerleaders for the MAFCO Panthers this year. There are four football teams and four cheerleading teams.
The Mighty Mites football team is for players who are 6 and 7 years old. There are also some 5-year-olds on the team.
The other three football teams are Division I for 7- and 8-year-olds, Division II for 9- and 10-year-olds and Division III for those ages 11 to 14.
The four cheerleading teams are Mighty Mites, Division I, Division II and Division III. They have the same age requirements as the football teams.
“We’re going OK,” said MAFCO President Morris Schrader as he attended a recent practice. “We are trying to have a lot of fundraisers for the program. We are having a lot of bake sales and parents are baking a lot of cookies.”
Schrader noted that the fundraising is necessary because “sponsorship is very down” this year due to the economy.
But the MAFCO Board of Directors and coaches won’t let that keep the players and cheerleaders off the field.
“Everybody here plays regardless of their financial circumstances,” said MAFCO Secretary Charlotte Mattice. “We all work hard to make sure no child is left behind.”
MAFCO offers parents payment plans and limited scholarships are available to help with the fees to participate.
“About 40 percent of the kids receive assistance with the fees,” Schrader said.
Schrader and the other MAFCO officials do so much fundraising in an effort to keep the fees as reasonable as possible.
Of course, it takes a great deal of money to keep MAFCO going. The equipment must be scanned and certified every other year, which costs $3,000. Insurance runs between $2,000 and $3,000 annually and the referees fees are $3,500 a year.
Schrader noted that MAFCO is the only youth football program in Sullivan County which plays its games on a full field. MAFCO teams play in the Orange County Youth Football League. The teams will play eight games this season, four at home at Poli Field in Sackett Lake and four away games throughout Orange County.
This past Saturday, the members of the Division I team held a scrimmage at halftime of the Monticello vs. Pine Bush football game at Monticello High School.
The members of the MAFCO Board of Directors and coaches attend regular league meetings in Goshen throughout the year. In addition, all of the head coaches are SUNY Youth Sports Certified and all coaches have received first aid and CPR training.
“Safety comes first with us,” Schrader said. “We want the kids to have fun, but they have to be serious about safety.”
Even though MAFCO is based in Monticello, kids from around Sullivan County are welcome to join the program. This autumn, MAFCO has players and cheerleaders from Fallsburg, Forestburgh, Liberty, Monticello and Rock Hill.
“The coaches help keep everybody working together,” Schrader commented. “When you are working with these kids, it feels like everybody is part of a family. It’s amazing.”
Of course, MAFCO gets plenty of support from the families of the players and cheerleaders and the community. Schrader noted that Mike Walcott still helps run the concession stand at Poli Field even though his grandson moved out of the area and no longer plays in MAFCO.
Schrader pointed out that Carrie’s Meat Market in Monticello provides all of the hamburgers and hot dogs for the concession stand and the Poli Family donated Poli Field to MAFCO several years ago. Tony Poli still mows the field.
MAFCO is building a new football field at the Town of Thompson Park. Phase I of the project was completed last fall and the organization is now working on Phase II.
“It’s 100 percent volunteer,” Schrader said. “It’s going to be very nice when we are finished.”
The MAFCO motto is “Kids in Sports Stay out of Courts.”
“It’s great to have so many kids out here,” Schrader said. “They are having fun playing the game and learning to respect each other and their opponents.”
“They are learning about good sportsmanship and competition,” Mattice added.
MAFCO Vice President Brian Stickle is excited about the program’s new season.
“We have a lot of dedicated people working together for this program,” he said. “We have come a long way since starting this in 2004.”
Stickle is one of those dedicated individuals who has been involved since MAFCO began. He is one of the eight original founders of the program. The others are Janet Dones, Seasor Dones, Michael Greco, Caroline Hayes, Tom McGrery, Cherie Mosher and Donna Reese.
Stickle is also one of several men who built Poli Field. The others are Matt Cooper, Joe McGill, Sean McGill, Lawrence Ruff and David Turick.
The 2011 MAFCO Coaching Staff includes:
Board of Directors: President Morris Schrader, Vice President Brian Stickle, Commissioner Dennis Martin, Treasurer Christine Schrader, Secretary Charlotte Mattice
Mighty Mites: Head Coach Robert Harrison, Assistant Coach Greg Merton, Assistant Coach Mike Lella
Division I: Head Coach Scott Brannigan, Assistant Coach Bryan Babcock, Assistant Coach Tom Merton, Assistant Coach Quanne Mizell, Junior Coach Ethan Sherwood
Division II: DeShawn Booker, Assistant Coach Tommy Downey, Assistant Coach Shane Allen, Junior Coach Joshua Idyis
Division III: Head Coach Duane Staten, Assistant Coach Sterling Morrison, Assistant Coach Desmond Chislom
Cheerleading: Head Coach Kenya Snowden, Assistant Coach Chrissy Downey, Assistant Coach Deborah Salgado.
Mighty Mites Football: Daniel Cano, Jamil Chapman, Eduardo Colotla, Tyrell Corvington, Malikhi Forbes, Derek Fulton, Kaisain Gibbs, Caleb Green, Robert M. Harrison IV, Robert Heyward III, Michael Lella, Sincere McNeal, Joseph Merton, Derek Moorer, Dakaiy Morrison, Christian Pelosi, Aaidan Rausch
Division I Football: Trevor Babcock, Jeremiah Banerapt, Troy Barino, Austin Beach, Steven Beauregard, Michael Brown Jr., Kristian Calderon, Damion Freer, Elijah Gavins, Kyone Hilliard, De’Narrion Kanaan, Isaiah Liciaga, Peter Lutman, Tommy Merton, Jarell Millien, Elijah Rausch, Aiden Rosenstein, Brandon Schrader, Logan Sherwood, Ramal Snowden, Alonzo Stergis, Nikko Griffin-Torres, Andrew Young, Anthony Klaus, Jesse Acevedo
Division II Football: Michaela Bradshaw, Camilo Cano, Desaan Clark, Tahleek Clark, Tyrese Corvington, Aaron Diaz, Erik Downey, Michael Green Jr., Emmanuel Idyis, Thomas Liciaga, Dylan Pantoja, John Ploschke, Devon Ranne, LaMya Simms, Tron Snowden Jr., Dimetrie Vega, Tyron Walker, Kevin Brito
Division III Football: Mark Adams, Sherwin Anthony, Dion Bottaro, DeAndre Bowens, Jose Colotla, Braiden DiMartino, Solomon Garrett, Shykel Hilliard, Jonathon Liciaga, Kyle Mangabang, Christain Meachum, Donte Medina, Sterling Morrison, Travon Powell, Raeleigh Ranne, Ryan Ranne, Christain Roman, Tariq Stoney, Romero Tanco, Aaron Toro, Joseph Wigfall
Mighty Mites Cheerleading: Natalia Diaz, Allyson Guerra, Naasia McNeal, Jacqueline Salgado, Kimberly Salgado, Jeanne VanPelt, Andraya Young, Kayla Robinson, Trinety Blume
Division I Cheerleading: Victoria Anderson, Sherese Anthony, Jasmine Blume, Marina Colon, Tara Downey, Emiliana Fernandez, Gabriela Hernandez, Briana Ibanez, Christine Kearney, Allie Lahey, Mayrangelic Hernandez, Destiny Pagan, Jesney Santos, Destiny Staten, Cassondra Turner, Jasyah Washington, Dezhariya Williams
Division II Cheerleading: Aaliyah Courtney, Ashlyn Rivera, Kayla Robinson, Sara Robinson, Angelia Snowden, Sanaia Tanco, Frances Van Pelt
Division III Cheerleading: Jasmine Contrys, Taylor Nelson, Selena Prokosch.