Thriving on a legacy
Joe MacDonald Youth Football league celebrates 20th year
For the past 20 years, Joe MacDonald’s passion for football has been the platform on which thousands of children have built their own love of the sport.
On Oct. 7, 1993, MacDonald, a constable with the Sudbury Regional Police, was killed in the line of duty. Shortly thereafter, the Joe MacDonald Youth Football League (JMYFL) was established in his honour.
“This is the best tribute there could be, because Joe loved football,” said Randy Stevens, MacDonald’s best friend and a coach with the league. “It keeps Joe’s memory alive. It keeps me going.”
Stevens said the creation of the league turned around the football scene in Sudbury.
“(At the time), there were only three football teams in Sudbury,” he said. “As a result of the JMYFL, there are now nine strong high school teams in Sudbury, as well as the junior and varsity Gladiators and the rebirth of the Spartans.”
Stevens has been with the league since its inception, and he said the impact it has had on those involved has been wide spread.
“It’s helped kids with their confidence. It’s a lot of fun seeing the kids’ progression, from not even being able to spell the word football to actually doing organized plays on the field. I see adults who used to play, now getting their kids involved in the league.”
… this is just keeping that memory alive, and recognizing and celebrating what he stood for.
Playing football in Sudbury as a youth, MacDonald moved onto Carleton University, where he was named captain of the football team, as well as a conference all-star. Upon his return to Sudbury, MacDonald began coaching at the high school level.
“(This league) really keeps Joe’s memory alive for us and what he stood for,” said Sudbury Police Chief Frank Elsner. “He was one of the very first in our organization that really understood the meaning of community, especially as it relates to kids and being involved with the kids. He was a huge supporter of that in his off time, so this is just keeping that memory alive, and recognizing and celebrating what he stood for.”
The league is marking its 20th anniversary this year with a special season-opener, as well as brand new jerseys for all the players and a special raffle draw.
“Labour Day is our opening kickoff, and we really want it to be a homecoming for everybody who’s been involved in the league or had a kid in the league,” said Mike Staffen, past president and co-founder of the JMYFL.
“We’re also going to have a tent set up with memorabilia from the league and from Joe when he was growing up, because that’s the one thing we wanted to do with the league, we wanted to make sure that Joe’s spirit would never be forgotten.”
The early bird draw in the Superbowl Raffle will take place Sept. 2 at 1 p.m. at James Jerome Sports Complex. The early bird prize is two tickets to a Notre Dame Fighting Irish football game in Indiana, including transportation and accommodations.
The grand prize draw will be held Dec. 27 at 10 a.m. at Eddie’s Restaurant and Sports Bar, and includes two tickets to Super Bowl XLVIII in New York, as well as transportation, accommodations and spending money.
“All the money raised from this raffle will go toward purchasing equipment,” Staffen said. “With the league, all the kids have to supply is their cleats. We pay for everything else. It’s a great opportunity for everybody to help out.”
Tickets for the raffle are $20. For more information about the prizes, as well as a list of locations where tickets can be purchased, or for information on how to get involved with the league, visit joemacdonaldfootball.com.