Celebrating 40 years of Clark County Youth Football

Terry and Mary Hyde have a love for football and children, and that is their motivation for running Clark County Youth Football, celebrating 40 years. Photo by Paul Valencia
Terry and Mary Hyde have a love for football and children, and that is their motivation for running Clark County Youth Football, celebrating 40 years. Photo by Paul Valencia

CCYF stresses community-based athletics, not all-star teams

Paul Valencia
ClarkCountyToday.com

It must be an epic image, when all the gear is turned in after a football season.

Helmets. Shoulder pads. Jerseys. Pants. Knee pads. And more.

It takes about 2,000 square feet of warehouse space to manage the massive amount of equipment.

“When we have all of our inventory in, I have more inventory than any school district, including districts with (multiple) high schools and middle schools,” said Terry Hyde, a co-founder and the president of Clark County Youth Football.

This fall, there are 57 teams, representing different age groups and communities throughout the CCYF boundary. CCYF is celebrating 40 years of youth football with the community at heart.

“We believe every child deserves the right to learn to love the game,” Hyde said. “That’s our whole purpose. Our job is to teach kids to learn to love the game and give them opportunities to play.”

CCYF also emphasizes local, local, local. When the numbers allow — and they often do — CCYF keeps athletes nearby, to represent their communities. If you live in Ridgefield, you will play for a Ridgefield CCYF team. The goal, Hyde said, is for those players to leave CCYF after eighth grade and head into high school as longtime teammates.

“As a program, we’re not interested in building all-star teams. We don’t want all-star teams,” Hyde said. “What we’re most proud about in our program is a sense of community. We’re building a sense of community.”

Clark County Youth Football stresses community and sportsmanship. Photo by Paul Valencia
Clark County Youth Football stresses community and sportsmanship. Photo by Paul Valencia

Terry and Mary Hyde are the faces of CCYF. Terry is the president. His wife Mary is the league administrator. They have plenty of help, as well. John Reed is the league commissioner, who is in charge of the games and the development of coaches. Christie Salyards is the CCYF player agent. It is her responsibility to confirm every athlete’s age and address, to ensure the athlete is on the correct team.

The league administrator, though, Mary Hyde — she’s the one who keeps this machine running 12 months a year.

Sure, there is a traditional football season. Then there is spring flag football. In between, it is time to prepare.

The fall season ends on the final Saturday of October, the championship games for CCYF. So you’d think maybe in November or December, there might be time to take a break. Nope.

“We don’t even breathe then,” Mary Hyde said.

Because there is gear to check the week after the season ends. And the gear must be inspected. Some gear is retired. Some might need to be repaired. More will need to be ordered.

“When the football season ends, that’s when our board goes to work for the next season,” Terry Hyde said.

The CCYF Food Drive, which started in 2010, continued its legacy earlier this year with another huge number.

In all, the drive produced 21,640 pounds for the Clark County Food Bank.This year’s drive is under new management. We profiled the moms from the Evergreen Plainsmen Foundation in the summer as they prepared for the food drive.

Terry and Mary cannot go out too often without somebody saying hi. Terry knows everyone, it seems. Of course, the Hydes also are known for their vehicle. Batman has the Batmobile, Terry has the green Chevy Tahoe with the huge letters “CCYF” on the back window. 

For 40 years, children in Clark County have been playing youth football with Terry and Mary in charge of one of the biggest programs in the region. That’s a lot of children who have grown up and still see CCYF signage all over their communities, and a number of adults now who have positive memories of their experience with CCYF.

Terry says hello to anyone and everyone who waves or wants to talk football for a few minutes. He is not just the president of the league. He’s an ambassador. 

The idea for CCYF came out of a need. The Catholic Youth Organization was getting out of tackle football, Hyde recalled. At the time, there were about 40 youngsters who played for St. Joseph Catholic School in Vancouver. 

So Terry Hyde, along with Doc Morasch, Jack Ryan, and Al Wooldridge met at the old Smokey’s Pizza on Mill Plain and brainstormed. They ended up reaching out to the Boys Club in Portland. And those few dozen athletes, now representing Clark County Youth Football, got a chance to play against Portland teams in 1983.

For a few years, it became known as the I-205 Belt League, with CCYF athletes playing against teams from Portland and its suburbs. 

As more and more athletes signed up, it became clear to Hyde that Clark County could stand on its own.  

For the last 30 or so years, it has been Clark County Youth Football, scheduling teams to play other teams within the county.

“When we say ‘Best game in town,’ that’s what it’s about. We’re more interested in building a sense of community in each community within the county,” Terry Hyde said.

That motto is so much more than just football, too, 

It turns out, money collected at each stadium during a regular-season game day for CCYF events goes to that local high school. Tickets and concessions. 

CCYF, the Hydes say, only takes in money from its fees to play, corporate sponsorship, as well as an annual fundraiser. 

But on, say, a regular Saturday in September, the money stays within the local school district.

Or maybe area Shriners charities, when the Shriners run a site. In all, CCYF game days raise more than $100,000 for local communities during the season, Terry Hyde said.

This is just a small example of the equipment that Clark County Youth Football has, because most of the equipment is checked out by athletes during the season. When all the inventory is in, CCYF needs roughly 2,000 square feet of warehouse space. Photo by Paul Valencia
This is just a small example of the equipment that Clark County Youth Football has, because most of the equipment is checked out by athletes during the season. When all the inventory is in, CCYF needs roughly 2,000 square feet of warehouse space. Photo by Paul Valencia

This season, a typical Saturday for CCYF consists of four sites — local high school stadiums — with the first game kicking off at 10 a.m. and the last game starting at 5 p.m. 

All day, every Saturday.

This fall, more than 2,000 children are participating in CCYF.

That’s a strong number, but not its peak. Youth football across the country took a hit during the concussion scare. (The pandemic also brought numbers down.)

All the attention that was placed on head injuries in football has made the game safer, Hyde said. CCYF has safety protocols and training in place.

“Our coaches go through a five-week training session,” Terry Hyde said, with training on concussion awareness, tackling certification, and more. 

Hyde noted that CCYF coaches go through more training than what is needed in order to be a coach on a high school staff. Hyde, by the way, has been a head coach at Evergreen and Prairie High Schools, as well as an assistant at other schools through the years.

The coaches and team moms and all who have an official relationship with CCYF go through a background check. 

CCYF also provides what it calls a Premier Progressive Program. Athletes do not just start out with full-contact tackle football.

Athletes start at flag football at 5 years old. They graduate to modified flex, which includes soft-shell shoulder pads and a soft-shell helmet, so the athletes get used to wearing football equipment. 

From there, it is advanced flex, with hard-shell helmets and shoulder pads, but the game remains flag football.

By the time the athlete is a fourth-grader, the athlete is likely ready for tackle football. But for parents of fourth-graders not ready for tackle, there is another advanced flag football game that slowly introduces the athletes to contact.

“I compare it to baseball where you have T-ball, then coach pitch, then player pitch,” Hyde said.

Fundamentals of football are taught. Fun is preached. It has to be fun, Hyde tells his coaches. Not just in games, but at practice, too.

CCYF has rules in place so “Daddy Baller” cannot take over a team as a coach. A “Daddy Baller,” Hyde said, is a parent/coach who is only interested in his child’s development, or maybe someone who is too serious about winning. 

At CCYF, fun is part of fundamentals, and playing time is guaranteed for all.

“At the younger levels, there is an 11-on, 11-off mentality. If one team has 11 on offense, there will be 11 different players on defense the next series. Those teams also develop multiple quarterbacks. There is not just one quarterback per team per game. 

There is a progression to playing time as athletes get older, but no matter what, every eligible, healthy athlete who shows up for a game will play in that game.

“Every kid has to participate in every quarter, at all levels,” Hyde said. “Every kid has to play (at least) 10 plays a half. It’s about developing kids to learn to love the game.”

It is the goal that every athlete who plays football at CCYF has a positive, memorable experience.

“I would say, over the years, two-thirds of the kids who have come through, by the time they are seniors in high school, aren’t playing football anymore,” Terry Hyde said. “Our hope is it was their decision that they got into something else. It wasn’t because of the actions or the attitude of a (CCYF) coach. Let’s go make it as fun as we can.”

That is also one of the reasons the CCYF season ends at the end of October. Even after champions are crowned, there are no extended seasons for any championship teams to travel to other parts of the country, to see how the local teams could compete in a national event.

“These kids started practicing football in the middle of August. By the time we get to the end of October, it’s getting a little old. Basketball is starting up. Wrestling is starting up. Let’s let those kids go do that,” Terry Hyde said. “If they want to come back in the spring and play flag football, great. If they want to play baseball, that’s great, too.”

But no all-star travel teams, CCYF says. Just have fun, play within the community, and keep tackle football in its traditional season.

Now, that does not mean the adults running CCYF can take a break. As Mary Hyde noted, there really is no down time. 

Summer is particularly busy. Mary Hyde said she typically deals with 150 to 200 emails a day in July. All those games must be scheduled at the various sites. But it’s not the games that are a hassle. All 57 of the teams have practice times and fields must be available for them. The 57 teams do not make those reservations on their own. Nope, it’s Mary Hyde coordinating with all the facilities throughout the region.

It is a ton of work. But it is also a labor of love.

Mary Hyde said the preseason jamboree is special because that is the one time when every team is at one site.

“When we have our jamboree and all of our teams come through, you look up in the stands, and there is nowhere to sit,” Hyde said. “How did we do this? What did we do to pull this off again?”

She loves attending high school games, too, and looking at the rosters. She remembers the names of players who grew up in CCYF. 

“I take a lot of pride in that,” she said.

The Hydes have been invited to weddings, from adults who have fond memories of their time in CCYF.

“That makes me feel good. We touched their lives,” Mary Hyde said.

It was just a couple of teams 40 years ago. Now, 40 years later, dozens of teams from all over the county. And the work continues.

“How long are we going to keep doing this? As long as there is a need and the game stays true to the belief of the game,” Terry Hyde said.

Terry, about to turn 64, said he is not going to be around for the next 40 years. Mary said she’s not so sure.

“He might be ornery enough,” she said with a laugh.

Seriously, the Hydes do not have an exit plan just yet.

“Going forward, we want the program to fill the need for the county. Not just one community, one team, but the county,” Terry Hyde said. “There will be a point when someone takes it over and we ride off into the sunset. But it’s a trust factor. This is a monster to manage.”

Mary Hyde is not ready to hand over any responsibilities just yet.

“I want to make sure we’re ready to say we’re done. We’re not there yet,” Mary Hyde said. “This is about the kids. He and I could find all kinds of things to do. But we love football, and we love kids. So it fits.”

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