Rams and USA Football partner for Youth Football Blitz Fan Fest
Quentin Lake stood on the 35-yard line on the easterly side of the Redondo Union football field when he shared he was having flashbacks of playing in the very stadium. He recalled that in 2016 he intercepted a pass meant for Alex Cook of Sheldon High School. The game he was thinking of happened in the winter of 2016, his senior year at Mater Dei High School, making the game one of Lake’s final games in youth football.
Now in 2021 he is a graduate of UCLA and is officially a Los Angeles Ram (He signed his rookie contract on Monday) and he is back on that field to give back to youth football. The Los Angeles Rams and USA Football teamed up to host Blitz Fan Fest, an event dedicated to inspiring the next generation of football players. The entire 2022 Rams rookie class was on hand to coach and rouse the youngsters ranging from 5 to18.
And that they did. Upon their arrival at the event, they were instantly mobbed by a group of frenzied kids. They didn’t gather prepared to take a selfie or get an autograph. They just wanted to be in the presence of people who participate at the highest level of a sport they love. One tweener sought the presence of one particular professional footballer, saying as he ran toward the 20 or so rookies, “Where OBJ at?”
One day of coaching from even elite athletes does not an NFL star make, but there is something about proximity that makes even the loftiest goals seem much more attainable. Lake recognizes the importance of that. Saying that his youth football coaches were some of his biggest influences and that they provided someone to look up to and that any one of these kids could be a future ‘Quentin Lake.’
This is a big reason that an organization like USA Football is so important to the future of football. While an emphasis of Blitz Fan Fests is to have fun, the backbone of Blitz is USA Football’s Coach Certification. They certified over 100 youth football coaches at the event.
Of course, coaching is what makes youth football, and now with very valid concerns from parents about head injuries and other risks associated with football the importance of good competent coaching is more important than ever.
Speaking with Britteny Brothers, who is the Senior Director of Events and Community Programs for USA Football, brought up that the Blitz Fan Fest is a grassroots initiative to bring their Football Development Model across the country. They are visiting 18 different NFL markets to promote teaching to, as Brothers put it, ‘the age and stage’ of a child.
Their efforts are spearheading the change in how youth football is coached. Their over 700,000 coaching certifications have aided in the change in how youth football is perceived by parents. In a survey they conducted, 85 percent of parents agree that youth football is safer than it was five years ago and 90 percent of people agree that youth football coaches are more informed on health and safety than five years ago.
The age and stage idea seems to be the inspiration for the motto of the day, which was Football for All. This also extends to gender. There were many girls in attendance at the event. In fact, a group of girls representing the Redondo Union High School Girls Flag Football team were hands down the most enthusiastic and focused attendees at the event. They displayed some pretty excellent football skills as well. From route-running drills to the tackling donut, these girls showed out!
USA Football is also a partner of the US Women’s National Tackle Football team. They will be competing this summer at the IFAF World Championships in Vantaa, Finland from July 28th to August 8th and are currently holding tryouts for the team.
USA Football has resources for everyone involved in youth football from players and coaches to parents.