USA Football
March 6, 2020
Dear Parents, Coaches and Community Members,

As promised, we are keeping all of our loyal past, present and future community members up to speed on our plans. As you should know by now that our 2020 Football Season Registration is now open. As of now we will have the three community school systems Anchor Bay (New Baltimore Ravens), Port Huron (Fort Gratiot Youth Football), and Richmond (Richmond Blue Devils). Please go to their respective web-sites to review our registration activities and dates.

Our last communication was very popular among our community parents. We tried it to answer many of your questions and keep you informed about decisions being made to strengthen TAFL. Our hope is to continue to answer the critical questions that have bubbled up in the meantime. Please keep the questions coming as this will help us with the necessary communication and league improvements.

Q: How can we improve communication for the future? There was surprise by communities being pulled out of TAFL, without families being consulted, and communication remains strained.
A: We are excited to work with our current communities to figure out the best way to communicate about all things TAFL. While we stand strong on the presumption of positive intent, we do not always have all of the answers. What we can answer is what TAFL will do, moving forward. In our restructuring we have recognized a need for straight forward and transparent communication with all of our communities. Our goal is to ensure clear and concise communication to all of our stakeholders. Our improvements will be based upon the feedback that you provide. We will look at provided input, given with sincerity and received with grace, as an educational experience for this league.
• Cliques are not endorsed. While we understand the need to form supportive groups we want all families to feel welcomed and supported in their TAFL experience. If your experience has been negative in the past, regarding this situation, know it has our full attention and we will work tirelessly to ensure such groups are not supported within TAFL.
• As we continue to restructure know that your involvement is crucial to our success. We are here to listen and consider all viewpoints as we move this redesigned league forward.
• We want to make our community teams manageable and represent what is best for our little athletes. Having smaller community teams will allow for proper oversight and inclusion in decision making and volunteering.
• TAFL is passionate about the roots of the league. These roots include community feedback centered around listening and engaging with the families it supports. We want to make clear we are not “all of the ideas in the room.” Our families are strategic in our continued improvement and we want you to know your voices are heard. If you feel something is not up to standards for your community reach out to your coach, our Director at Large, or other board members.
• One key way to ensure your voice is heard is to to keep volunteering and giving support where things can improve in your communities. Please remember we are learning with you and do not represent all of the answer. When addressing an issue please feel free to research, offer solutions with suggestions, provide good examples, etc. Note: All of your ideas may not be able to be implemented but should be answered.
Q: We are concerned about the Anchor Bay Community area and specifically the Tars Youth Football program. Will TARS hurt our relationship with the schools?
A: TAFL is communicating with all of the local school systems. We do this to ensure they know we are supporting them and listening to them as we do our community families. We are ensuring them our league is there for them.

Q: Since there is uncertainty on who the Tars will play, should we look for another league? It seems that the teams are split up and going elsewhere except former Tars/TAFL family who formed the New Baltimore Ravens.
A: This is another difficult question, so we will answer the best we can:

• We were told that the balance of the Port Huron Youth Football (PHYF- Patriots) participants will play the balance of the Anchor Bay Tars Youth Football (ABTYFL-Tars) participants. As of now there is no league, that we are aware of, due to their previous sizing structures. TAFL remains the only choice. We are excited to be a perfect fit for some of the community and their families.
• Yes, you can join a league in your families surrounding areas if you do not like the direction these clubs are taking. You can join TAFL as a separate club if you bring in new teams.
• Since the New Baltimore Club and Fort Gratiot Clubs are filling up spots quickly, families are reaching out to TAFL for other possibilities. As stated in previous communications; Anchor Bay Schools have other clubs and there is a possibility of an Ira Township youth program, but that has not been formed yet. We would love to see an enthusiastic group partner and lead that program.
• We were informed that there are a large number of the AB Tars leaving and playing with other clubs if they cannot play with the AB –New Baltimore Ravens.

Q: Any updates to other communities joining TAFL since your last communication?
A: As of now there are no new communities joining TAFL. We are excited to begin here and grow our clubs each year. Our current clubs are those released in previous TAFL news releases. Our new clubs and structuring allow for more flexibility and direction from the clubs represented. These loyal families like the direction TAFL is heading in. Again we thank you for your loyalty.

Q: Why is there negative press about TAFL from the current Port Huron Youth Football Club?
A: TAFL is founded on a strong sense of doing what it right for its participants, families, and communities. Our values may have been strained before, however, our journey has allowed us to grow from learn our mistakes. Our current board has specifically gathered to address the concerns that grew out of these, at times, painful mistakes. In our redesign we have included only members that share our values and passion for continued growth and learning. We appreciate all constructive and concise feedback. Growth takes place when honest input is provided with compassion and a willingness to be part of the change. Growth cannot take place when the only feedback is defensive, divisive, or unproductive.
• TAFL has been loyal league to its families and community members past and present. We are thrilled to offer that to future members.
• The TAFL president was one of the founding members of the Port Huron Youth Football Club. He helped developed them, provided them the tools they needed grow, and is happy to see them prosper if that is what makes their community happy. This is key to understanding that TAFL, while saddened at the split, is happy to see the PHYFC prosper.
• It is interesting to note that the Port Huron Youth Football Club administrators were all members of TALF and had every chance to improve it. We are excited to see what changes they make in their own clubs, as we are in the process now, of developing ours. We hope that the changes that they have made reflect the values that their community and families desire. TAFL’s values and commitment remain intact and strong.
• As stated before, TAFL will not engage in negative responses or negative press. We are here for our families and communities, period. Our best fit includes communities and families that find value in what we have to offer.

Q: Can anyone form a club and be part of TAFL? How can ensure we are in a league that has plans to grow?
A: As stated before and above, anyone can form a club with the right structure. You should know time is running out, so you would have to act quickly or wait until next year. Below are the minimum requirements.
• Must have a board of volunteers with a minimum of; President, Treasurer, Secretary.
• We also recommend other positions to support activities such as Fundraiser, equipment and player safety.
• Have a non-profit status, we can give advice on this.
• Written request to join via application.

Q: Will TAFL have Flag Football this year?
A: As previously communicated, we firmly believe flag football is an essential part of youth football. Some communities are going to offer it yet this year. This will be a TAFL first so please be patient with our growth. Here is what we know so far:
• It is being pushed by the high schools, parents, and a lot of football organizations. So we want to be accommodating, mindful of what our community families desire, and offer flag football.
• Some parents want to start early with football, specifically flag at the earlier stages. Flag football allows for the foundations and fundamentals of football to be learned, encouraged, and developed. We know that this is developmentally appropriate for some of our participants.
• Some programs have eliminated Freshman football to encourage flag as it too can be seen as a feeder to tackle football.
• We will have more information coming and will talk to parents at our registration/sizing events.

We will continue to answer your questions in a transparent, fair and honest way. Keep them coming.

Full 2020 Schedule to be out in two weeks!

As previously communicated The Thumb Area Football and Cheerleading League (T.A.F.L.) is here for you, our invested communities. We have and always will listen to the community members without prejudice or divisive intent. As we have always communicated in our mission, and have demonstrated in our behavior, we are here for the children in our areas communities. Our intent and purpose have not changed.

President : ​​Tom Tocco
Treasurer: ​​Cindy Valentine
Secretary: ​​Sandee Kuhfeldt
Community Director at Large: ​​Kevin Bergeon
Richmond Community Director:​Allen Fletcher
New Baltimore Community Director /
President:​Brian Baker
Fort Gratiot Community Director /
President:​Chris Damon​
We look forward to a great 2020 season!

The Thumb Area Football and Cheerleading League, a league you built, thanks you for loyalty, time and commitment to the league.

Best Regards,

​ ​
Thumb Area Football & Cheerleading League
Team Sponsors