On the cusp of the fall youth sports season,the YMCA of Austin is investing in significant improvements to provide increased safety in all of its flag football programs. RockSolid RS1 Soft Shell Head Guards will be used at the Hays Communities Family Branch this Fall,making the YMCA of Austin the first Y in the state–and the second Y in the nation–to utilize these specially designed helmets for non-contact football for their athletes.

“While flag football is a much safer alternative to youth tackle football, we do believe that utilizing these soft shell head guards in non-contact football leagues will help elevate the standard of safety in this game we all love,” says Joey LaRocque,RockSolid’s Founder and CEO.

The head guards will be purchased using funds from a $28,356 grant that the Y recently received from the Nelson Puett Football Fund of the Austin Community Foundation. RockSolid is also partnering with the Y to donate several helmets to the growing program.

“We plan to start the use of these helmets in just our oldest two divisions, so for ages 8 and up,” said Simon Singletary, Sports Program Coordinator for the Hays Communities Family Branch.  “Based on the need in the other divisions, we will potentially acquire more helmets for future seasons.”

In addition to the helmets, the Puett Fund grant will also improve football fields and facilities at multiple branches. The funds will be used to support the purchase of portable field lighting for the Hays YMCA, as well as field and bleacher improvements at East Communities YMCA and equipment upgrades at TownLake.

“The Puett football grant will help our program grow to new previously unreached levels by allowing us to play multiple games in one night with our soon to be purchased field lights,” said Singletary.  “Our teams will have more time to practice and improve their overall skill level in the sport, by gaining more potential play hours each week of our fall season.”

YMCA of Austin flag football is a recreational program designed for kids new to the sport of football as well as those who desire to enhance their skills without the potential risks associated with tackle football.  The program helps kids learn the rules, tactics and skills of the game.  The grant provides the Y the opportunity to expose more kids to the sport in a safer environment and help foster a love of physical activity.  Sports programs, like Youth Flag Football, can combat childhood obesity, while giving kids a fun way to exercise and learn good sportsmanship.

Flag football is open for kids ages 4-12 and is offered at Hays Communities YMCA, East Communities YMCA and Springs Family YMCA for the fall season and atTown Lake YMCA for the winter season.  To learn more about Youth Fall Sports at the YMCA, visit www.AustinYMCA.org/sports/youth-sports.

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