Tryouts of any kind are prohibited by Park Ridge Football. Why? Simple answer is that it’s a ‘no cut’ sport, and there is no way to know how they’ll develop. Tryouts or player evaluations are never perfect. Youth players might not compete to their full potential on that day or even over several days of evaluations. Evaluators likely have biases – old family friends, former teammates, coaches who want only fast skill players, neighborhood cliques, business relationships, etc. – you name it and we’ve seen it over our 54 years.
The Myth of the “Dream Team”
And not once in our history did every parent agree that the so-called ‘elite’ team (filled with middle school-aged storied and legendary players with disputable undefeated records) had even ALL of the legitimate elite athletes (at that point in time based on their peer group’s skills, size, and strength) on THAT elite team – it’s never happened in any sport. Just ask Isaiah Thomas about the 1992 US men’s Olympic basketball team. It’s a fantasy, myth, exaggeration, or even worse, a manipulation. Maybe even Michael Jordan realized rosters were a way to settle old grudges, rivalries, or even worse, reduce competition, or even cast shadows on the undeniable bright light that sports usually brings to the truly gifted and talented athletes if they’re simply given that opportunity to shine. Who knows, but we have made our share of mistakes in this area, we own them, and we need to tell more of the story.
Park Ridge Football and Cheer, under our long-standing traveling Park Ridge Falcon’s football and cheer teams, have won several national titles in football and cheer, dozens of regional titles, and these accomplishments were largely made on the backs of these passionate and skilled young athletes from across our neighborhoods. The dedicated volunteer coaches simply put the best athletes out on the field to win – right then and there. Simple formula, and it helped us create a national reputation in football and cheer for a mid-size Chicago-based community that has literally drove hundreds of highly skilled athletes into our local high schools and many into college athletics.
Challenge is that’s not really the full story either, but its impressive and sounds good. We have been great at keeping or often increasing the amount of kids who play football in our area. That’s historically been our secret to success – not dividing talent prematurely now just to win. And if we’re not careful, we could lose what’s made us so special.
Park Ridge Football Helps Kids Learn and Grow
So, we’ve made some Board decisions. The original Park Ridge Falcons will not unethically recruit players. We want kids from here to play here. The Falcons won’t cut or run off kids – an absurd premise if you really know football. We don’t demote kids that aren’t quite ready for travel tackle football – they might not play as much as others or in certain roles, but we will never try to get them to quit the game. We want them to learn and grow. We won’t cheat on ages or weights just to win. We won’t do things under the radar just because we know we can. We won’t have members on our Board that aren’t fully committed to helping all of the football and cheer athletes in our community.
Park Ridge Football Vows to Give Kids Their Start
So we are trying to do better, make adjustments faster, and not overlook the situations that we all would prefer to ignore. Instead, we will set the bar as high as possible by continuing to give every child a start, making sure they get to play in a game regardless of today’s skill level, learn both basic and advanced fundamentals, and give them time to grow into their bodies as footballers. We hope that every child in our program ends up on top with a championship ring or trophy that they earn – never bought but always fought for, and those memories will last them a lifetime.
Finally, the attached picture has 2 former Falcons and House tackle players who left us for their 8th grade season back in 2006. Both played over in Mt Prospect in 8th grade, and then went on to help the Maine South Varsity Football teams win 3 back-to-back state championships during high school. They inspire us to do better and not repeat our mistakes.
Each player in our program will determine when they stop playing football, we just help them get a start.