by Nick Wright, President
South Jersey United Football League
In order to provide a preview of the South Jersey United Football League's fall season, president Nick Wright began a camp tour of each of the 16 organizations in July. Stay tuned to the News Page of SJFUL.com for matchup previews, interviews, and 2016 SJUFL Championship predictions!
Below is his review of the Gloucester City Mustangs.
Due to a severe storm moving through the area, I wasn't able to spend much time with the Mustangs. However, all indications are that they will be a competitor at all levels. The Mustangs boast a five-team participation rate for the past 3 years (Pee-Wee, Frosh, Soph, Junior, Senior). The Pee-Wee division seems to be important to the Mustangs. Mustangs President, Chad Zearfoss, thinks that the Pee-Wee division allows for two years of development that are crucial to the success of the rest of the program. Because of that, the Mustangs have initiated several incentives to their pee-wee athletes and families. The pee-wee division has a modified schedule, which allows for more flexibility with parents. In addition, the pee-wee registration rate is lower than the regular registration rate. The Mustangs hope that these factors will keep their pee-wee division strong for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, the Mustangs pee-wee program isn't the biggest story in their program this year. Usually a program of consistency, the Mustangs look forward to welcoming new head coaches at every level for the 2016 season. For Gloucester's program, this is a big story.
The Gloucester Mustangs have been around for many years. They have a very storied history, tracing back to a post-World War II semi-pro football team based in Gloucester City. It was 1946 and many veterans were returning home to the States. A group of former high school athletes came together to organize an athletic organization to memorialize those lost at war. The organization was to be called the Gloucester City Memorial Athletic Association, later to be colloquially named 'Memorial AA.' The first order of business for Memorial AA was to establish a semi-pro football team called the Gloucester City Mustangs. The Mustangs went on to win their first game against Woodlynne AA with a score of 6-0. The likes of Leon Harris, Edgar Chew, and Steve Shimkus are not to be forgotten in the 'Holy City' of Gloucester. Needless to say, change is probably not a popular concept in Gloucester City. However, change is exactly what the Mustangs seem to be looking for. In order to better serve their youth athletes, the Mustangs have chosen new head coaches at every single level of their organization. Gloucester's new Senior head coach, Dan MacDonald, is a great example of Gloucester's vision.
To many, Dan is considered an 'old-timer.' Several years ago, Dan was crucial in starting the Pine Hill Rams youth football organization, and he brings a lot of experience to Gloucester. Gloucester's executive board has exclaimed their support of Dan MacDonald for his undying love and appreciation for youth sports. It seems as if Gloucester's priorities have shifted towards providing a solid and inclusive foundation for all Gloucester residents interested in becoming a part of the Mustangs family. New coaches Tom George (Pee-Wee), Joe Randazzo (Frosh), Al Busan (Soph) and Chad Zearfoss (Junior) seem to all share the idea that Gloucester football is geared to serve any family in the community willing to join the organization.
That's not to say winning isn't important for the Mustangs. Every youth organization in South Jersey knows that Gloucester wants to win. According to Zearfoss, a winning attitude provides youth athletes with the confidence to face obstacles in other parts of their lives. Gloucester is the only SJUFL organization to send two divisions to a championship game last year, so you can be sure that they will be looking to do the same in 2016.