AURORA -- The Aurora Youth Football Association is gearing up for its fall 2017 programs, which include contact and non-tackle football and cheerleading.
This season, the cheerleading program is led by Tara Bultrowicz, an Aurora High graduate, and Jennifer Collis, a Solon High graduate.
The program has added non-tackle cheer for kindergartners to second-graders. An added bonus is that all games are played in Aurora, so the girls do not have to travel to other cities.
AYFA is still offering a JV and varsity cheer program for third- to sixth-graders, in which girls travel with their teams and experience cheering in front of home and away crowds.
For both programs, no cheer or dance experience is required. All cheers, including the Aurora fight song, and a short half-time dance will be taught during practices. Girls of all cheer/dance abilities are welcome, and girls will receive a uniform.
All girls can participate in fun AYFA activities such as Browns Day and the spaghetti dinner, and all will receive recognition at the end of the season.
Coaches to guide girls throughout the season also are needed. No cheer or dance experience is required, just a good attitude and Aurora spirit.
Meanwhile, the AYFA is on the forefront of providing alternatives to the traditional tackle football program.
For the third year in a row, it is offering a unique non-tackle league.
Historically, flag football was the only alternative to tackle.
But the non-tackle league incorporates many of the same rules from traditional football without the heavy hitting and tackling.
One of the biggest advantages of the non-tackle league is that it incorporates an offensive and defensive line which is lacking in traditional flag football.
Thus, athletes can start to understand blocking, proper pursuit and working as a cohesive unit on offense and defense.
A flag is still used to denote a player being "down." For third- to sixth-graders, helmets and shoulder pads are used.
That makes transition to tackle football easier. More importantly, they are playing "real" football in every aspect of the game except tackling.
These changes have been received by the community with open arms as AYFA's numbers have increased year after year, and 2017 is projected to be the best year yet.
This year, games will be played on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Veterans Stadium, and concessions will be available.
The league also will offer a player skills day prior to the start of the season so coaches can evaluate skill levels and then draft teams.
For information about cheerleading, non-tackle and tackle football, visit www.auroraayfa.com.
Fees, start dates and practice information can be found there. Early registration ends June 1. A late fee will be added after that.