Tyrone Youth Athletics Association

Pictured is local entrepreneur John Russell (back left) wrestling coaches and youth in part of the brand new Tyrone Youth Athletic Association, located in the La Craft/Conny’s Variety building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Wrestling, baseball just the beginning

People with vision can accomplish much, as is the case with the newly-formed Tyrone Youth Athletic Association, a non-profit organization located in the Conny’s Square building complex along Pennsylvania Avenue, Tyrone. Local entrepreneur John Russell, founder and CEO of EMG Brands, brought his business to Tyrone and has been working to revitalize downtown. Along with opening Elevation Management next to the Tyrone-Snyder Public Library, Russell recently purchased the building complex across the street, the location of La Craft and Conny’s Variety. The 9,000 square foot first-floor space will house the newly-formed the Tyrone Youth Athletic Association (TYAA).

Russell said, “The whole vision of the Tyrone Youth Athletic Association is to reduce the cost of sports while improving the facilities for the kids and also add structure, consistency and integration with the high school programs.”

TYAA board members are Russell and his brother, Will Russell, Mike Whitby, Jeff Long, Ryan DelBaggio, Rose Black, and Chad Shirey.

Renovations are well underway inside the building, with a wrestling practice area the first step in the process. The youth wrestling program had been displaced, but now has a new home for practice and training.

Tyrone varsity wrestling Coach Terry Tate had a vision to create a space for the kids and bring the programs together. Tate said, “The Tyrone Youth Athletic Association was created to give opportunity and purpose to young athletes. It was founded on the ideals that participation in athletics should not be limited to only those with the means to do so. Athletics have been a long standing staple in Tyrone and in recent years there has been a decline in the participants of youth athletics and in effect, the junior high and varsity levels of the sport have suffered attrition as well.

“Mr. Whitby [TYAA president] and I saw this from two angles, that of a parent and that of a coach. In March of 2018 we began discussing some of the shortcomings of athletics in general, which became much more localized as he brought up the leagues his son was in and I began talking about the troubles that I was having at the varsity level in both football and wrestling. As we dug deeper, we realized that there were some things that we as not only fathers and coaches can change but more so as community members. We wanted to create something that had the big picture in mind and that was creating a solidified organization that worked top down. One in which the varsity coach of the sport was able to have control of the developmental youth leagues to ensure that all coaches, parents and athletes were on the same page.”

Whitby, TYAA president and a former Navy SEAL, added, “Wrestling is a sport that provides youth an opportunity to learn hard work and accountability which will help them throughout their lifetime.”

Wrestling is just the first step in the vision to pull the Tyrone youth sports all together into one organization. Youth wrestlers have begun using the new facility. Next on the horizon is youth baseball, with many more sports to follow, allowing for more consistency, fairness, workout facilities and opportunities for the youth, who will eventually be ready to play in junior high and high school programs in Tyrone. Often, youth sports organizations have some teams within their programs that win all the time and others who lose all the time, much due to unfairness in the creation of the teams. With this balanced, fair program, sports teams will be re-drafted and certain teams will no longer lose every single game. The board will make decisions on what’s best for all the kids, Russell said.

Following wrestling, Tyrone Youth Baseball and Warriors Mark Baseball joined the TYAA, Russell said. Renovations will soon be underway for turf and batting cages for baseball practice.

This week at the Warriors Mark Township meeting, Jeff Stine, co-director of Warriors Mark Baseball, announced to Township supervisors that the Warriors Mark program will join the new TYAA. Stine assured supervisors that contributions to Warriors Mark Baseball will stay in Warriors Mark. Russell and Whitby were also in attendance at the Warriors Mark meeting. Russell said that looking at all of the organizations as a whole, they may not have been operating as efficiently as possible. “We are creating facilities and programs to give all these kids a chance,” Russell said. “It’s a partnership, together.”

Signups are currently underway for baseball. More information is available at <http://tyroneathletics.com/current-programs&gt;.

Julie White can be reached at jwhite@thedailyherald.net.


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