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YFL feature

{mosimage}Since the Youth Football League came to Santa Barbara in 1971, it has been driven by hardworking, volunteers and community support.


Since the Youth Football League came to Santa Barbara in 1971, it has been driven by hardworking, volunteers and community support.

Santa Barbara YFL is a league that emphasizes building the body, mind and character of a child, in an effort to make them the best human being possible.

Some of the biggest alumni to come out of the SBYFL are players such as Jay Staggs, Ryan Shotwell, Bradlee Van Pelt and Randall Cunningham, all of which played in the NFL at some point.

As a non-profit organization, none of the 200+ people involved with the YFL get paid. All admissions money goes directly to things like equipment maintenance, field rentals and game officials, according to SBYFL Public Relations Director, Shane Lopez.

Lopez has been volunteering as a coach and board member for the past 12 years and is currently the head coach for the Junior II Dons.{mosimage}

“Finding places to play and practice is the toughest issue for the YFL right now,” said Lopez, “We have fourteen teams in our district, while other districts

like Santa Maria or Oxnard only have one team per division.”

With the overload on teams, playing fields are a premium in Santa Barbara, especially with the recent time change. With daylight savings time ending, the YFL funding department takes a hit. Before the time change, teams had sufficient daylight to practice until around six in the evening. Now they can only practice until five. Since most coaches and volunteers work full time, many until five o’clock, now the YFL must provide extra money to practice on lighted fields.

As a community based organization, Lopez would like to see more support from the local community.

“With Santa Barbara’s wealthy reputation, we’d expect to have more financial support from the community,” said Lopez. In the future, the YFL would like to purchase land in the area to practice on instead of renting from local schools and parks.

Lopez says that without all the volunteer work put into the YFL, nothing could be possible, regardless of the amount of sponsorship funding. Some of the important people that help run the YFL are Larry Martel, the equipment manager for all the teams in the league. Also Stacy Liberts is the treasurer who is in charge of managing the finances for the YFL.

The person who may have the toughest job in the league is Teresa Savage, the Player/Parent Representative. Teresa deals with all issues involving parent complaints and problems. As Lopez puts it, her work is invaluable, “She does a phenomenal job. I wouldn’t want that job.”

The person working behind the scenes to make it all possible is Karen Takeuchi, the YFL President of “KT” as her peers call her. She is in charge of making sure that everything runs smoothly within the league and has the final say in all league matters. “I don’t know how she does it,” Lopez said when asked how she finds time to manage the YFL, work full time and still have time to spend with her family.

“It’s really all about the kids,” explains Lopez, “We’re trying to make these kids into better people by giving them something positive to do and keeping them out of trouble.” He hopes that the YFL will continue being a great organization that helps the growth of out community’s youth.

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