By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TROY — When it came to joining a travel league, Troy Junior Football had one condition.
“When I called the SWBL president to say we were interested in joining, I told him we had one stipulation — we’d like to play Piqua in the last game of the year,” Troy Junior Football president Shawn Boyer said. “And he said okay, so we will.”
The move is just one of many big changes coming to Troy Junior Football this fall season as its newly-restructured board of directors looks to make signing up more attractive to potential players after seeing its numbers fall in recent years, as well as dealing with complications that have arisen during the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19.
“We used to have six teams with well over 200 kids, both boys and girls, from second to sixth grade, playing football,” Boyer said. “Then we were down to five teams, then four teams, and last year we had three teams, with a lot of those fifth and sixth graders being first-year players.
“Troy Junior Football has always been intramural within the city of Troy since it was founded in 1961, and it’s always been a solid program. I played back in the 1980s before Duke Park, back when we played at the high school’s baseball field. Last year, we had to go out of the city to play a complete schedule, playing teams like West Milton, Covington and Ansonia.”
Earlier this year, the board went through a big restructuring, though, with Boyer taking over as president in February.
“We had a great board, with a lot of those guys being on it for 30 years,” he said. “I just think their time with it was done. Most of those guys resigned, and I took over in February. We restructured the whole board with a younger group of guys, most of which are more into the travel part of it — which is what a lot of teams in the area are doing these days.”
Which all led TJF to joining a travel league.
“This year, we will be joining the SWBL North Division,” Boyer said. “When we joined, several leagues wanted us, like the CCC and the Gem City Elite in Dayton. But with the SWBL having teams like Tipp City and Piqua, it just made sense geographically, seemed a little better as far as traveling. We wanted to make sure we could get the best competition we could get and keep it fun for the kids.
“But we wanted to play Piqua the last game of the season — and now that’s something these kids will get to experience from the second grade on up.”
And that’s something that Troy High School varsity football coach Dan Gress — who is also on the TJF board of directors — can get behind.
“Dan is a big supporter of TJF, and we think joining this league will help keep future high school teams competitive, as well,” Boyer said.
TJF is also working on new uniforms for its teams in addition to other new ideas.
“We’re reconstructing the whole league, so that means new jerseys,” Boyer said. “Hopefully we can get new pants and helmets, too, depending on our budget, but that may come next year. And each of the last few years we’ve lost a sponsor because we’ve lost a team, so we’re working on different ways to put our sponsors’ names out there beyond sponsoring a team, like putting signs on our field, on all of the jerseys, and also maybe a new website that we can add direct links to their businesses on.”
But, as it has with nearly every facet of life, the coronavirus has affected TJF, too.
“The first thing we were worried about when I took over was getting more players,” Boyer said. “We had an early signup event planned in March, were going to hold it in the victory room at the high school stadium — but that got postponed. We rescheduled it for April, and that got postponed, as well. We also always had Strawberry Festival signups, too, but now that’s been cancelled.
“We’re thinking of maybe having an event in late May at Duke Park, but the virus just has everything on hold for now, which I understand.”
The team is holding signups online, though, at signupgenius.com, with the link available on the Troy Junior Football Facebook page — which will also be where to find future updates about TJF’s fall plans.
“Online signups will run through the month of April, and we’ll probably extend that until the end of May, too,” Boyer said. “And we’ll still hold the Trojan Horse tournament in November, too. We had 15 teams last year, and that’s always fun with some pretty good teams coming in.
“We’ve got a lot of changes this year, but they’re all good ones. We just want everyone to know that we’re doing a lot to make Troy Junior Football more fun and competitive for the kids and help them get used to what they can expect from playing football in junior high.”
Contact Josh Brown at [email protected].
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