MYAL set to begin football practice

Pop Warner program expects more numbers

by Rudy Brandl, Sports Editor
   Numbers should be up when the Manville Youth Athletic League kicks off its 2008 football and cheerleading seasons with the official start of practice Friday at Gerber Field.
   MYAL president Gregg Snyder and Manville High head football coach Brett Stibitz share the same enthusiasm after the inaugural “Let ‘em Play” camp was such a smashing success. An estimated 12 of the 41 youngsters who attended the two-day clinic July 11-12 were newcomers to the Pop Warner program. That bodes well for this year’s player turnout.
   ”I was pleased with the turnout,” Snyder said. “It was great for the first time. We’ve gotten quite a few new kids that signed up during the camp.”
   This year’s Pop Warner season begins in August, which gives the MYAL less time to finalize its rosters. In previous years, when the organization was walking a fine line in the numbers department, there was more time to recruit extra boys and juggle rosters to make sure each level had enough players to field a full team.
   That may not be the case this year. It’s a good thing the “Let ‘em Play” camp gave the MYAL a good head start.
   Stibitz, who’s been taking a greater interest in the youngsters he hopes someday will suit up and play for him at the high school, was thrilled with the enrollment at the two-day clinic.
   ”We achieved every goal,” Stibitz said. “I was expecting about 25 kids but we ended up with 42 kids and about 20 coaches. I wanted every kid in town to see that we take an interest in the Pop Warner program. It was a great success.”
   The clinic consisted of two three-hour sessions, from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Friday’s first day included a visit from Rutgers University players Brian Tracey and Billy Anderson, who provided instruction, spoke with the boys about the importance of football in their lives and signed autographs. Saturday’s session gave the players and parents an opportunity to meet the MYAL coaches.
   Stibitz had the campers divided into three groups – kindergarten through third grade, 4-6 grade and 7-8 grade. All the youngsters got a chance to play every position and work on all the different skills.
   ”We gave the kids opportunities to be linemen and quarterbacks,” Stibitz said. “Every kid got an opportunity to do different things.”
   Stibitz said 12 boys who were not previously registered to play MYAL football signed up during the two-day camp. Most of the campers were very young. There were no eighth-graders and only two seventh-graders, so 40 of the kids ranged from K-6.
   ”We had fun,” Stibitz said. “It was great to run a camp like this with such a great turnout. The kids had a great time.”
   Another positive feature of “Let ‘em Play” was the collaboration of the MYAL and MHS coaches. All stations included coaches from both the youth and high school levels, with Stibitz overseeing the entire program. Things ran smoothly and people became more familiar with each other.
   ”We’re trying to incorporate my coaching style and philosophies down on the Pop Warner level,” Stibitz said. “We’re trying to incorporate what we do at the high school, but we’re going to take it slow.”
   ”It’s something I’ve been trying to get done for the last few years,” Snyder added. “It’s good that we finally got a start.”
   Time will tell if “Let ‘em Play” will have a huge impact on the MYAL football program. For now, it has given the organization an early boost while enhancing the relationship between all the Manville football people.