Vermillion Youth Football Association kicks off inaugural season The Vermillion Youth Football Association is set to kickoff their inaugural season after turning a dream into reality in four short months. Full tackle football with pads is under way this fall with teams competing at the third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade levels. Approximately 85 total youth football players are competing at the various grade levels with the third grade fielding the largest squad with 24 players. A meeting was held in mid-April to see if there was enough interest in forming a youth football league in Vermillion. After a decision was reached to pursue this goal, a task force was formed to set the wheels in motion to organize an association to oversee this venture. The task force was comprised of approximately 15 parents to set about the task of forming the Vermillion Youth Football Association. The major obstacle to overcome in the process was the purchasing of football equipment to outfit anywhere from 80-100 players in the four grades wishing to participate on the teams. It was decided that if a fee of approximately $100 was charged per player it would only generate about 40 percent of the total needed to invest in the required inventory of football equipment needed. The other 60 percent would need to be raised through fundraising efforts and/or contributions from individuals or businesses. The approximate cost to outfit a youth league player was about $185 including helmet, shoulder pads, jerseys, pants and accessory pads. Three major contributors stepped forward to assist the association in their pursuit of purchasing enough football equipment inventory to outfit 80-100 youth football players along other accessory items. Ben Leber, currently starting linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings and a 1997 Vermillion High School graduate, has been the major contributor to the VYFA with a $10,000 donation. Ben was a high school All-American while playing for the Tanagers and also went on to star as an All-American linebacker at Kansas State University. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2002 and played there four years before signing with the Vikings in 2006 where he has been in a starting linebacker role the last three years. Jerad Higman, president of Masaba Mining Equipment in Vermillion, has been the second major contributor with a $2,500 donation and e-Telecare of Vermillion, represented by Melissa Doohen, is the third major contributor with a donation of $1,000. â�?�?Without the financial donations from these three major contributors we would probably not have been able to be up and running this quickly as an association,â�? said Gary Culver, current president of the Vermillion Youth Football Association. â�?�?Obviously, Benâ�?�?s significant contribution put us in a tremendous financial position to purchase our initial inventory of football equipment along with the playersâ�?�? fees and, of course, the local contributions from Masaba Mining Equipment and e-Telecare. â�?�?We, as a task force committee, felt that if we could get through this first year and build up our inventory of equipment, then we would be in a great financial position to make some purchases above and beyond the essentials of the normal football attire. â�?�?We really felt that this youth football program was something that the kids in third through sixth grades in Vermillion needed to have as a choice in the fall season. All the youth up and down the I-29 corridor have this same opportunity and we felt that our kids were getting short-changed, so to speak,â�? he said. The second biggest obstacle the VYFA faced was securing a schedule of games for each of the four grade levels. It was their goal to schedule six to eight games at the fifth- and sixth- grade levels and five to six games at the third- and fourth-grade levels this first year. The VYFA is trying to gain league affiliation with the Sioux Border Conference which includes Dakota Valley, South Sioux City, Sioux City Catholic Schools (Saders), Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Lawton-Bronson, Woodbury Central and Sloan-Westwood (29ers). â�?�?We hope that we would have a great opportunity to join these seven teams to form an eight-team conference in future years. We think we would be a â�?�?good fitâ�?�? as far as the size of our community and our geographic location along I-29. This year we are playing nearly all the teams in the conference as a non-conference opponent,â�? said Culver. The goals of the VYFA were for the kids to have a fun and enjoyable experience, to improve skills as it relates to the sport of football, and to build character, self-confidence and pride as individuals and provide them with the tools to become better football players as they progress in the future.