The Feb. 12 USA Football Maryland Youth Leadership Forum drew nearly two dozen of the state's youth football leaders to the Baltimore Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md.
The four-hour gathering included discussions on state tournaments, coaching education and certification, more cross-league interaction and USA Football's new League Affiliation program.
This was the fourth year Charles Elliott, president of the Maryland Football Association, attended the forum. His league has approximately 265 cheerleaders and 3,700 football players. He said he continues to come to the USA Football meetings hosted by the Ravens because of the camaraderie it creates throughout each league in the state.
"We had a great discussion on concussion awareness," Elliott said. "It has been great to see each year the improvement of the USA Football clinics for kids and coaches."
Elliott's league utilizes these resources, mandating that each youth coach must be certified through USA Football's certified coaching courses and its coaching schools.
"The main thing this year was discussing the creation of a state association and coming together as a larger group," Elliott said. "Uniting power as one large association will help us spend and utilize resources more efficiently."
This was the sixth state forum attended by Mike Milani, co-president of Mid-Maryland Youth Football and Cheer, a league with approximately 10,000 players and cheerleaders.
Milani said he continues to come back because the forum provides a good venue to discuss current issues and bring all Maryland leagues together as a state.
In addition, Milani said the continuous development of USA Football programs—such as the coaching certification and coaches education—make the forums worthwhile.
"We require all of our coaches to be certified through USA Football." he said. "Our coaches often utilize the other tools usafootball.com provides as well."
USA Football state forums unite commissioners, presidents and other youth league leaders annually to discuss best practices, USA Football's services and opportunities and share experiences in youth football. The attendees appreciate the Ravens' commitment to Maryland Youth Football.
"It's just a great opportunity to meet people that are in similar situations as yourself," Milani said. "There's a lot of idea sharing that can help make life easier. Information sharing and networking goes a long way."