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Youth football leagues vie for Joe Debely priority use
The Rookie 49ers play a game in September 2008. These 7 and 8 year-old players were part of the Turlock Youth Football League. On Wednesday, both Turlock Youth Football and Trans Valley Youth Football League requested affiliate status from the Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Community Commission for the first time. Under the current affiliate agreement, only one team can become affiliated and have scheduling rights to Joe Debely Stadium. - photo by Journal file photo
The Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Community Commission was faced with a unique decision on Wednesday night. They were tasked with choosing which of two youth football teams would be an official affiliate with the Turlock Parks, Recreation and Facilities Division. Both Trans Valley Youth Football League and Turlock Youth Football are seeking rights to use Joe Debely Stadium for Saturday games.
Affiliated teams have priority over use of city facilities and Turlock Unified School District facilities, including Joe Debely Stadium. TUSD has use agreements with the city that allow the Parks and Recreation Division to reserve the field on behalf of affiliated teams. Schools have first priority over TUSD facilities, then Recreation Division programs, then affiliated teams, then everyone else.
According to the city’s current affiliation criteria, a new affiliated group “must provide a different or enhanced level of service than what is offered by other affiliate groups or by the City of Turlock Recreation Division. A direct duplication of services will not be considered for affiliation.” There can only be one affiliated group providing a service to the same group of kids.
“We’ve never had two like groups apply against each other,” Recreation Supervisor Mark Crivelli said.
There are two Little League baseball leagues affiliated with the city, but Flanders and Crivelli said that they do not fall under the restriction because they are divided geographically. Children from one side of town play for American/American East, and children from the other side play for National/National South. They are not competing for the same group of players, so they are not considered a “direct duplication of services.”
“If there were geographic restrictions, this would be just like Little League,” Crivelli said.
The Trans Valley Youth Football League applied for affiliate status for their future team, the Turlock Titans. Turlock Youth Football applied for affiliate status soon after. Turlock Youth Football was established 26 years ago, but had never applied for affiliate status before now.
At Wednesday’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, city staff requested time to revise the affiliation agreement, possibly to take out the provision that allows for only one affiliated group. Commissioners agreed to take no action at Wednesday’s meeting, but they heard presentations from both groups.
Both leagues expressed an interest in playing their games at Joe Debely Stadium on Saturday afternoons, during the same time of year. Turlock Youth Football currently uses both Joe Debely Stadium and Delhi High School Stadium for home games.
Commission Chair Brent Bohlender suggested that the two leagues use Joe Debely Stadium on alternating Saturdays. Turlock Youth Football board member Zach Perkins said that once renovations on Joe Debely Stadium are complete, Turlock Youth Football hopes to play all home games at the stadium. Between their two teams, the 49ers and the Vikings, Turlock Youth Football has home games every Saturday from around noon to 9 p.m.
John Nixon, a representative from the Trans Valley Youth Football League, said that they had no interest in taking members away from Turlock Youth Football. He said that his team will accept the first 40 players to sign up, and that there was a need for another youth football organization in Turlock.
After presentations and public comment, Bohlender said that action would be taken at February’s meeting. He then told members of the public that discussion about youth football was over, and that they could leave if they did not want to stay for discussion about dog parks (another item on Wednesday night’s agenda.) Most members of the public left the meeting at that time.
Commissioners went on to discuss several other agenda items, and introduced two new commissioners. As they moved into the Commissioner Comments section of the agenda, however, the youth football issue was raised again. Commissioners requested further clarification about the need for affiliate status. City staff explained why groups would want to be affiliated, and what the benefits are to the city and school district.
Commissioners then further discussed the two football leagues, affiliation status, and other possible solutions to the problem.
“Past practice and ‘this is Turlock’ I’m sorry ... that doesn’t work,” Bohlender said in regards to Turlock Youth Football’s reason for requesting affiliate status after 26 years.
“These guys really could work out a three team rotation,” said Crivelli.
The Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Community Commission will decide the affiliation status of Turlock Youth Football and Trans Valley Youth Football League at their Feb. 10 meeting.
Commissioner Gabriele Kinsella, who heard discussion on Wednesday night regarding the two leagues, resigned from the Parks, Recreation and Community Commission on Thursday. She will not take part in February’s meeting, bringing the number of active commissioners to six.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.