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Building character one child at a time

• Santa Clarita Youth Sports Association teaches skill on and off the gridiron

Posted: June 24, 2008 1:27 a.m.
Updated: August 25, 2008 5:02 a.m.

While youth soccer and baseball leagues abound in the Santa Clarita Valley, there are few football organizations by comparison.

Still, what those league lack in quantity they make up in quality.

That is especially true of the Santa Clarita Youth Sports Association, which directly governs the Santa Clarita Wildcats football league (which is a member of the Gold Coast League).

Now before these various conglomerations begin to boggle the mind, just remember that the Wildcats organization (which fields teams for kids from 6-14 years plus over 50 cheerleaders) considers itself to be the elite local gridiron program.

"We believe this based on the calibre of families we attract who are ever willing to contribute time and resources to give our kids a fulfilling experience," said co-founder James McGoldrick, a resident of Stephenson Ranch and a sports marketing expert for the Fox network.

"Adding to that is the fact our equipment is the best and safest available," he continued. "Safety is of the utmost importance. And also the facilities we have secured for practice and games are highly valued and secured through partnerships with our schools."

And while some may wonder why not join a Pop Warner football program, McGoldrick explained that Pop Warner (named after the famous Cal skipper Glenn "Pop" Warner of the 1920s) does not have much of a presence in the Los Angeles area; likewise the newer American Youth Football Conference.

"Most of the teams we play either belong to the Gold Coast or are of independent affiliation," he added.

The response was so strong to the Wildcats program (whose teams play at West Ranch and Golden Valley high schools), that an offshoot was created (the Grizzlies), which currently consists of two teams - for 8-10 and 11-12 year olds - that play at Golden Valley High.

These teams will play other squads from Ventura, Filmore, Acton, Northridge and other Gold Coast clubs from nearby communities.

"Other local sports organizations which share our philosophy of sportsmanship, character and family include Santa Clarita Youth Rugby, Phenom Athletics and Santa Clarita Lacrosse," McGoldrick said. "I've looked at a lot of leagues and played youth football myself, and I consider this one of the best in the area.

"We've made a huge commitment to teach the fundamentals of the game as well as more important off-field ideals such as teamwork, respect, character, responsiblity and leadership, among other characteristics," he said.

McGoldrick also praised the efforts of the administrative board, coaches, players and families for the great sacrifices they have made.

He also singled out John "J.T." Torres, a program co-founder.

"J.T. is an integral part in providing a quality football program for our 250 families," McGoldrick said."He has 24 years experience in coaching youth football and is a sought-after speaker at coaching clinics around the country. We are very fortunate to have him."

This summer's rosters are full at this time, but to find out more about the leagues, visit or


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