Falcon Travel Tackle Football FAQs

Following are frequently asked questions about Park Ridge Falcons Travel Football. For more information, please contact Roy Hoffman.

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GENERAL

Falcon Travel Football is a community-based youth travel tackle football program for 3rd through 8th graders. We have been operating in and serving Park Ridge and surrounding communities for over 5 decades – and now as a proud new member franchise of the Bill George Youth Football League (BGYFL). Our focus is on competitive travel football fundamentals, safety/health, teamwork, sportsmanship, respect, and fun.

Park Ridge Sports, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving football and cheer participants in the Park Ridge area. We are the only football affiliate of the Park Ridge Park District. Our family of programs (Flag Football, Falcons Travel Tackle Football, Spirit Cheer, Falcons Competitive Cheerleading) is recognized regionally as a first-class organization in our community. The organization has delivered thousands of well trained and well-disciplined young athletes to local high schools. These athletes have been seasoned not only in the skills of their sport, but also have learned the essential characteristics of sports competition: Sportsmanship, Work Ethic, and Training. Each program is designed to be both competitive and fun; every season is filled with positive, lifelong memories.

The Bill George Youth Football League (BGYFL) is one of the strongest and most respected competitive youth travel tackle football leagues in the Chicagoland area. The BGYFL has been part of Chicago suburban youth sports for over 50 years and currently includes 22 Chicago suburban towns as member franchises. The league welcomed newcomers the Oak Park-River Forest Huskies, the Bensenville Raiders and the Park Ridge Falcons for the 2021 season. The League’s Age-Weight Matrix, philosophies, history, and proximity for traveling will be an ideal match for Park Ridge Travel Falcons. More information about the BGYFL and member franchises can be found at www.bgyfl.org.

Arlington Heights Bartlett Bensenville
Bloomingdale Carol Stream Downers Grove
Elk Grove Village Elmhurst Glen Ellyn
Hanover Park Hindsdale Lemont
Lombard Lyons Naperville
Oak Park RF Oswego Palatine
Park Ridge Plainfield Tri City
Wheaton

Falcon Travel Football is backed by a 50+ year history of growing players both on and off the field. Our commitment to your child’s development in our program is steadfast, and we are focused on helping them achieve their goals. Whether they are learning to love the game or have aspirations to play at an elite level, there is a path for them within our organization.

Our adult coaches are all unpaid volunteers who are usually parents of current or former Falcons Travel Football players with extensive youth coaching experience and/ or high-school/collegiate tackle football experience. Our coaches make a significant commitment to the program and to the development and safety of young football players and cheerleaders. All coaches are required to acknowledge a Code of Conduct and to submit a third-party background check. All Falcons football coaches also are required to be initially certified and recertified through USA Football (see “Safety” below). As part of our commitment to promoting leadership and community spirit, we often engage teen junior coaches, who are qualified Maine South High School football players to assist our adult coaching volunteers at camps, practices or games as needed.

No previous experience is required, but is helpful especially at the older age divisions. For each age division, players are evaluated by coaches to separate players based on a variety of factors including: positions, level of experience, commitment, aggressiveness, size, and tackle football skills. Players will be placed on teams that the coaching staffs feel are in the players’ and program’s best interests based upon Park Ridge Football Falcons (Our Program) and Bill George (Our League) Guidelines.

Yes, non-residents can register, however there are some BGYFL restrictions and limitations. Please contact us at prfootballcheer@gmail.com with specific eligibility questions.

Falcons is a volunteer run program. Depending on your level of comfort, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. You can help at any of the following levels:

  • Board Member
  • Head Coach
  • Assistant Coach
  • Team Admin
  • Event Planning Committee

If you would like to get your feet wet, please Contact Us.

Additionally, each team will be required to provide the following at each Home Game:

  • Chain Gang (consists of 3 individuals with the best seats to watch the game)
  • Scoreboard Keeper
  • Announcer

If your child’s team is the first game of the day, parent assistance will be needed to help setup the field.
If your child’s team is the last game of the day, parent assistance will be needed to help take down the field and put the equipment away.

You can always contact us via email at prfootballcheer@gmail.com and we will promptly get back to you.

PLAYER SAFETY

As with all competitive contact sports, there is risk of injury, specifically including concussions, as well as a risk of transmission of communicable disease, specifically including COVID. The health and safety of our Falcon Travel Football participants is our top priority. As part of our commitment to safety, our plan currently includes:

1) We will monitor, adopt, implement, and observe relevant COVID protocols based on the most recently available guidelines applicable to youth football in the State of Illinois. Among other resources for parents, USA Football provides an informative summary of recommended guidelines and measures as we and our fellow BGYFL towns, as well as leagues around the state, prepare for the return of youth football.

2) BGYFL contracts with athletic trainers with a goal of having a trainer at every game if possible.

3) We follow a Concussion Protocol. We have independent field managers at every game watching for potential concussions. A copy of our Concussion Protocol is posted to our website prior to the start of each season.

4) We are a participating member organization of USA Football, as is each member franchise of the BGYFL. Our participation requires each of our football coaches to take and pass a comprehensive certification course. The key health and safety components of USA Football’s youth platform are (1) concussion recognition and response, (2) heat preparedness and hydration, (3) sudden cardiac arrest, (4) equipment fitting, (5) contact limitations, and (6) tackling/blocking techniques. Our participation also provides us and our coaches access to a great deal of news, information and data on the sport of football and safety. Additional information about USA Football and its youth football platform can be found at www.usafootball.com.

5) We research the latest in Helmet technology and address our helmet purchases, reconditioning and certification based upon that research.

REGISTRATION AND FEES

Football registration is completed online at www.parkridgefootballandcheer.com Click the “Register Now” button at the top of the page to start the registration process.

Registration for the Fall season will generally open in April of each year. Registration closes July 18th for the 2021 season. After that date, your child will be placed on a waitlist and if team sizes allow, we will place them on a roster. Late registration fees apply. No registrations will be allowed per BGYFL Guidelines past 8-1-2021.

When you register, you will be required to provide your player’s name, basic contact information, guardian information, the grade your player will be entering that season, and other relevant information. You will also be required to upload a copy of your player’s birth certificate or hand in a hard copy at equipment pick up and to read, acknowledge and agree to the terms of (1) our Code of Conduct & Ethics Policies, (2) Refund Policy, (3) our Terms & Conditions, (4) an Emergency Medical Release, (5) a Waiver/Release for Communicable Diseases Including COVID-19, and (6) a Consent to Use of Name/Likeness. You are strongly encouraged to carefully review each of the foregoing disclosures, waivers and releases as they impact your and your player’s rights.

For the 2021 season, the fee schedule is as follows:

Registration Date Registration Status Registration Fee
Through May 31, 2021 Early Bird Registration $225
June 1 – July 18, 2021 Regular Registration $250
July 19 – July 31, 2021 Waitlist & Late Registration $300

For your registration to become effective, you MUST pay the registration fee online. Your registration date for fee purposes is determined based on the date you complete your registration, including payment.

In addition, we require an equipment rental/return agreement to be signed and a post dated check (Nov 1) in the amount of $300 (made out to Park Ridge Football) to be furnished at Equipment Handout which is only cashed if equipment is not returned during the scheduled equipment return timeframe. You are always free to purchase your own equipment.

We believe we offer a tremendously affordable value compared to other youth travel sports programs. We rely primarily on registration fees to fund our operations each year, supplemented only by charitable donations to our program, fundraising efforts, corporate/community sponsorships, and apparel sales. Your registration fees are used primarily for: league fees, referee fees, equipment (including helmets and shoulder pads), professional athletic training services, annual equipment reconditioning, new/replacement game and practice uniforms, field/facility usage, practice field lighting rental, overhead to maintain apparel inventory, fundraising activities, and advertising/promotional expenses. A portion of the fees also cover administrative expenses, professional fees (tax and legal), and annual insurance premiums. We seek to actively manage and contain our costs to maintain our registration fees affordable and provide the most value back to the player experience.

Our withdrawal/refund policy for the 2021 season is as follows: (1) those that withdraw prior to our annual Equipment Handout (see Equipment details. below) will be subject to a $45 non-refundable charge, and (2) those that do so after Equipment Handout but prior to the first game will be subject to a $100 non-refundable charge. League issued Equipment/uniforms not returned will result in loss of refund, and forfeiture of deposit check ($300 for tackle) to cover the replacement cost of the equipment. Players are no longer eligible for a refund after the 1st game of the season.

Yes, we offer discounts for three children or more (across football (flag/tackle) and cheer). A $50 discount is applied when 3 or more children are registered in the same registration session.

For special hardship/need-based circumstances we have granted a full or partial scholarship. Please email us at prfootballcheer@gmail.com if you believe you may qualify.

EQUIPMENT

We currently provide NOCSAE certified helmet, chin strap, shoulder pads, knee pads, practice and game pants, and practice and game jerseys. You are also free to purchase your own NOCSAE helmet, chin strap, shoulder pads, knee pads, and practice pants.

You must provide other required equipment that we do NOT provide, including mouthguard, integrated girdle (which can include integrated hip, thigh, knee and other padding), athletic protector/cup, cleats, integrated padded compression shirt (with rib and shoulder protection), and receiver gloves are optional. DICK’S Sporting Goods sponsorship of our program includes valuable coupons and special discounted shopping days for Falcon families which help to defray the cost of the equipment you will need to provide. You will receive information and details on those benefits prior to the start of the season.

We expect to hold a football Equipment Handout over the course of several days in late July (week of July 26th for 2021 season). We hold our Equipment Handout at Prospect Park, Park Ridge where players are fitted with and issued the football equipment that we provide. The exact dates and more information about the process and times for Equipment Handout will be provided to you well in advance. Equipment Handout is a challenge every year; we ask that you make every effort to pick up equipment on your scheduled Equipment Handout day.

Registration cost includes rental of the following:
• NOCSAE certified helmet that is rated best-in-class by the Virginia Tech STAR evaluation system (e.g. Riddell SpeedFlex, Riddell Victor I, Xenith)
• Riddell shoulder pads
• Practice and Game pants
• Practice and Game jerseys
• Game Socks

Park Ridge Falcon Travel Football players are responsible for providing:
• Girdle
• Cleats
• Protective cup
• Mouth guard
• Optional: gloves, padded compression shirt

Equipment provided by us must be returned to us after the season. We require an (1) equipment rental/return agreement to be signed and a (2) post dated check (Nov 1, 2021) in the amount of $300 (made out to Park Ridge Football) to be furnished at Equipment Handout which is only cashed if equipment is not returned during the scheduled equipment return timeframe. You are always free to purchase your own equipment. If you have multiple children, you will need multiple deposit checks. In addition, we will need a (3) copy of birth certificate. Equipment will not be handed out without having all items at equipment fittings.

PRACTICE SCHEDULE AND LOCATIONS

As noted under “Season and Game Schedule” above, the 2021 season officially starts on Monday, August 2, 2021 when teams are eligible to begin pre-season summer practice. Depending on level/team, pre-season summer practice generally is 4 days per week until the start of the school year. After the start of the school year (generally in mid-late August), practice is limited to 3 days per week (generally Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday), and for no more than a total of 6 hours per week. During the season, some levels/teams will also hold film sessions and/or walk-throughs.

Practices are usually 2 hours long. Your team’s actual practice schedule may vary slightly depending on level and coaching staff.

Each team’s 2021 practice field assignment will be determined before the start of practice. For our tackle levels, we have utilized practice fields at Franklin School/Northwest Park, Lincoln Middle School, Prospect Park, South Park, Hinkley Park and Southwest Park, among others. In the event of inclement weather, some of our teams may practice indoors at either the Rosemont Dome or Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports Complex in Bensenville, respectfully.

TeamSnap is the platform selected by Park Ridge Football and Cheer to manage registration, team rosters, game/practice schedules, communications, and notifications regarding inclement weather, cancellations/reschedules. This platform offers both a website and a mobile app for convenience. Please help us adopt this platform to the fullest extent by leveraging it for team chats/emails, keeping your player’s availability up to date and staying up to date on your player’s scheduled games and practices. Please download the TeamSnap App. The attached link provides some helpful tips on using the TeamSnap app/website to update preferences, add other family members’ contact info, and updating your player’s availability for team events: Getting Started on TeamSnap

No, a parent is not required to attend practice. However, parents must be readily accessible via phone in the event of an emergency or a change in weather or field conditions where practice will need to end early. We also expect parents to promptly drop off and pick up their child (or make arrangements to do so) at the allotted start/end times for all practices.

SEASON AND GAME SCHEDULE

The 2021 season officially starts on Monday, August 2, 2021 when teams are eligible to begin pre-season summer practice (see “Practice Schedule and Locations” below). Although the 2021 schedule has not been released, if history is any guide, we expect that opening game weekend (Week #1) will be the weekend of Saturday/Sunday, August 28-29, 2021. We will most likely be attending a Jamboree as a kick-off the weekend of August 22nd in Palatine.

We expect there to be either 8 or 9 regular season games for 2021. That means the final regular season game weekend will either be the weekend of Saturday/Sunday, October 16-17, 2021 (Week #8, if an 8-game regular season) or the weekend of Saturday/Sunday, October 23-24, 2021 (Week #9, if a 9-game regular season).

The end of each team’s 2021 season will depend on whether the team qualifies for the playoffs and how far it advances in the playoffs. There are two rounds of playoffs immediately following the end of the regular season on consecutive weekends, which are then followed by the BGYFL’s Bowl Championship weekend. The BGYFL’s Bowl Championship weekend will take place over the course of Friday-Sunday in early-to-mid November and has generally been hosted by Benedictine University in Lisle. All 9U through Senior/Varsity level teams are eligible for the playoffs within their division (depending on regular season record/seeding, typically limited to the top 8 seeded teams in each division). For the 8U level, there will be no post season bowls or Super Bowl.

Games are played on either Saturday, or Sunday with the only exceptions generally being games that are postponed and rescheduled due to weather which would then generally occur on a weeknight. Game start times are generally from 8:30 AM through 4:00 PM. Games last approximately 1.5 hours. Players are required to arrive at games no later than 1 hour before the scheduled game time for weigh-ins and team warm-ups. The 2021 game schedule is expected to be available in mid-August.

Our home field is Hinkley Park, located in the middle of Park Ridge between Busse Road and Northwest Highway. Subject to availability, teams may also play certain home games at Maine South High School or Notre Dame College Prep. Away games are played at various locations around the BGYFL. Most away games are no more than a 30 minute drive from Park Ridge.

There are a number of pre-season bowls, jamborees, and scrimmages held on weekends in August that Falcons teams can participate in in order to enhance practice and preparedness for the regular season. Participation is up to your team’s coaching staff.

LEVELS AND TEAMS

The BGYFL, of which we are member, offers the following 6 levels of play based on player age (noting the August 1 birthday cut-off).

1. 8U (introductory level, generally 2nd/3rd graders, must not have turned 9 years old by August 1) – Park Ridge will not allow 2nd graders to play, child needs to be in 3rd grade)
2. 9U (generally 4th graders, must not have turned 10 years old by August 1)
3. 10U (generally 5th graders, much not have turned 11 years old by August 1)
4. 11U (generally 6th graders, must not have turned 12 years old by August 1)
5. JV/12U (generally 7th graders, must not have turned 13 years old by August 1)
6. Varsity/14U (generally 8th graders, must not be enrolled in high school)

Within each age level of play, the BGYFL offers three divisions: Gold Division 1, Gold Division 2, and Silver. All divisions offer a highly competitive travel tackle football experience. As a result, teams may be split based on the number of players per age level, at which time they will go through an evaluation process. This evaluation process and the assignment of each player to a specific team will be dependent upon a variety of factors, including: athletic and football ability, tackle football experience, player size and aggressiveness, player and family commitment, and the position needs of each team.

If there are multiple Falcons teams within a level, your player will be placed on a team by the coaching staff at the applicable level. Only (1) Gold team will be fielded at each Level, but there can be (1) or more Silver teams at each level. The Instructional Division (8U) will have only (1) division, with no Gold or Silver distinction. Team sizes can range from 13 players up to 26 players (the league maximum, although waivable with league approval).

The player team placement decisions will be made by the coaches at their specific age levels and are deemed final. We cannot honor any requests for a certain coach or teammate.

If you register and we end up not fielding a team at specific age level/division, you will receive a full refund.

For safety reasons and to promote proper fundamental and developmental skills, the BGYFL incorporates the concept of “stripers” at each level, meaning that heavier players for their age/level will be required to play exclusively on the offensive and/or defensive line. They will not carry the ball. Stripers are identified by a colored stripe on the top of their helmet. The 2021 BGYFL Weight Chart specifies the striper weight threshold for each level and is posted to our website.

BGYFL is a no-cut league – meaning everyone has a place to play. There will be evaluations (not tryouts) to determine the best level of play for your child.

Divisions are organized by age and by skill level within an age bracket. There are restrictions on players at heavier weights/sizes from carrying the football, and playing specific positions on defense or special teams.

The Falcons Travel Football program cannot accommodate requests for a specific coach. Teams are determined through an evaluation process if there are multiple teams at an age level. For this reason, we can’t assure that a player is in the same Division or Level as a specific coach.

Teams are determined through an evaluation process if there are multiple teams at an age level. For this reason we can’t assure that a player is on the same team as a friend; however, since players are age based it is a great opportunity for them to meet and play with kids that are their own age.

Yes. If siblings are playing in the same Division and at the same Level, the coaches will make every attempt (without guaranteeing based upon the reasons already stated) to place the siblings on the same team if requested during the registration process.

Rostered players shall play a minimum 10 plays in each game. Depending upon his/her participation and attendance at practice and attitude towards fellow teammates, as determined by the coaching staff. As a result, plays may be limited to less than 10 per game. All exceptions must be noted and reported to the President/Athletic Director before the next scheduled game.

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