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March 1, 2019 Letter to RYAA Parents
Dear RYAA Parents,
On behalf of the RYAA board and my Co-President, Paul A. Tafalla, I would like to inform you of some changes for the 2019 Fall Football Season and clarify some information put out by another organization.
I am happy to tell you that effective February 2019, RYAA has left the Lake Ray Hubbard Football League (LRHFL) and joined as a founding member the Premier Lakes Sports League (PLSL).
Here is some context for those that are interested in the history of this decision. RYAA joined the LRHFL several years ago before Paul and I became Co-Presidents of RYAA. It was honestly the best option at the time. In 2018, the member groups were: RYAA, Rockwall Yellow Jackets, Heath Hawks, Terrell, Sunnyvale, and Wills Point (a Wylie organization also played some exhibition games within LRHFL, but they did not have voting rights). In the fall of 2018, several organizations, including RYAA, became frustrated with the way that our League was operating. Those organizations decided to table our frustrations until after the season was over. In November of 2018, several teams met as a group to discuss our options. We could stay in our existing league, leave our existing league and join a new league, or we could band together and create a new league that fits more cohesively with our ideals. Ultimately, we decided to band together to create a new league and in February 2019, an agreement was formed to play together in the Fall of 2019. The founding members of the new League are: RYAA, Terrell, Sunnyvale, Royce City, Wills Point, Rockwall Texans, Kaufman, and one of the Wylie organizations. Caddo Mills joined after the initial agreement and will also be playing with us for the 2019 season. As you can see, the Rockwall Yellow Jackets (RYJ) and Heath Hawks (HH) will not be playing with us in the Fall of 2019.
RYJ and HH are unhappy with the change. They have posted some information on their Facebook Page and in emails to their parents that is defamatory to our organization, not factually accurate, and is misleading. I would like to clear up some of that misinformation and provide you with some additional context as to why these decisions were made.
First, RYJ and HH seem to be under some misguided belief that RYAA and its leadership has some sort of responsibility to the kids/coaches/leadership of RYJ and HH. We do not. The RYAA leadership represents no interests other than the kids and coaches of RYAA. I will never apologize for doing what is in the best interest of our organization. The decision to leave the LRHFL was done with careful consideration and full agreement of the RYAA Board. It was something we felt was the best option for our organization. Here are a few of the most important reasons for this decision:
1. While RYJ and HH proport to be two separate organizations, they are in fact operating as one. They have a shared bank account, a shared website, and typically make decisions as a collective unit since both operate under Rockwall ISD. In LRHFL, each of the 6 organizations had 2 voting members. Because RYJ and HH held themselves out as 2 separate organizations, they had 2 votes each. RYAA was uncomfortable with this perceived unbalance of power should the two groups agree to vote collectively on league matters. The new league, PLSL, only allows independent groups to have 2 voting rights which we feel is a more appropriate balance of power.
2. In LRHFL, each organization was required to pay to join and play. A member of the RYJ leadership was elected as Treasurer. The money was to be used for league expenses. In August of 2018, we gave LRHFL a check for $3,300 for the 2018 season. To our knowledge the money was not placed into a separate account, and we have been unable to determine who has control over the money once it was given to the RYJ representative. We, as well as other former members of the LRHFL, have frequently requested an accounting of the money, copies of receipts of money spent, as well as a refund of unused amounts. We have been unsuccessful in receiving this information or a refund of unused monies. RYAA felt it could no longer continue in the good faith of our families to pay money to a league that would not make financials available. Our new league, PLSL, does not require any money to be paid upfront in order to play. There will be some league expenses that will be shared by the organizations, but they have been defined, limited, and will be paid directly by the organizations as the expenses are needed.
3. During our membership in the LRHFL, the Championship Games have always been hosted by Rockwall and no other group has had the opportunity to host. Rockwall collected the gate fees and concessions on championship day, but still insisted that each member organization send at least (2) delegates to help out for the duration of championship day. We felt that it was in the best interest of our organization to have a rotating championship game. Our new league, PLSL, used a lottery to determine who will host the playoff and championship games for the 2019 season. Royce City was the lucky winner of the first PLSL championship games!
4. The leadership of LRHFL was made up of 12 men. This was an issue for us in two areas: the fact that it was all male and that it had limited involvement from each organization. Half of our kids are female (cheer, drill, and female football players). We wanted a league that would recognize and protect the interests of our females as well as our male players. Our new league, PLSL, has 3 women who sit on the governing board and have voting rights, myself included. We also have three other organizations that have females that attend the board meetings on a regular basis. We feel that having more females involved in the leadership of the league will improve the league overall. The second issue stems around the fact that each organization was represented by 2 people in all aspects of the league. We felt that this created a daunting commitment from our two members and limited the amount of input we could provide. Our new League, PLSL, has a Board of Directors that makes all final decisions and is represented by two members of each organization. But we also have 7 sub-committees that will be staffed by each organization that will work on dedicated aspects of the season. We will be reaching out to you in the next couple of months to solicit volunteers for these sub-committees. This will allow us to have more parent involvement with the league so that interested parties can help shape the season beyond just coaching.
5. Our final reason for the switch comes down to drama. While there are some members of the RYJ and HH organizations that were great to work with, there were others that were quite difficult to work with. During our tenure with LRHFL, we felt some organizations were unfairly vilified, facts were not always presented accurately, and proper procedures were not followed for various things. We want to be able to spend more time working with our organization and less time dealing with the drama that was a part of LRHFL. After several meetings with the founding members of PLSL, we feel that they all have a similar philosophy as we do, and we look forward to being able to work cooperatively moving forward.
Now that I have addressed our reasons for the switch, I would like to address a few things RYJ and HH said in their statement.
1. The RYJ and HH statement indicates that we said, “we didn’t need Heath to play with us.” While it is factually true, it was taken out of context. The fact is, we already had 7 other organizations that wanted to join us in our new league. There were several of those organizations that did not want to deal with the RYJ leadership, and by default HH. We were uncomfortable with the symbiotic nature of RYJ and HH and told HH that they were more than welcome to join us, but if they were still tied to RYJ, then we would not be interested in them joining us. It was their leader representatives that made the decision to stay tied to RYJ, and by default, eliminated them from consideration of joining our league. So HH’s threat that we couldn’t have a league without them was unfounded. We didn’t, and don’t, need them to play with us to have a viable league.
2. While we were looking to create a new league, we were introduced to Keith Flowers, the President of the Rockwall Texans. He is an upstanding guy that has similar views as we do on how football should be coached and played. Their organization is not a “select” organization as stated by RYJ and HH. Like us, the Rockwall Texans are a competitive organization and accept and play all players that sign up for their teams. The PLSL agreement prevents any organization that is a “select” team (holds tryouts to play on the team), and we interviewed Keith extensively regarding this very point. In addition, we interviewed personnel within RISD, Rockwall organization leaders, and Rockwall families regarding their thoughts and knowledge about Keith and the Rockwall Texans. None had anything negative to say about Keith and the Texans. We feel confident that his organization will be a benefit to our league.
3. The statement by RYJ and HH implies that we bullied all the other organizations to leave with us. I am going to ask all of you to really think about that for a minute. Does it make sense that one organization was able to BULLY 3 other organizations to leave with them and join one group that had already left LRHFL and three other groups? Honestly, while I think RYAA is an awesome organization, we are just not that powerful! I would also invite you to meet the leadership of each of the other organizations that joined us in PLSL. None of those leaders are weak, weak minded, or incapable of making their own decisions. I find it extremely offensive that RYJ and HH have implied otherwise. All the organizations that have joined us in PLSL are led by upstanding men and women that have dedicated their time and resources to their organizations, and I have nothing but respect and admiration for those individuals. I would also like to point out that each organization has a Board (just like we do) that voted on and sanctioned their move to PLSL. Each group had the choice to stay or leave whatever league they were previously in, and they chose what was best for their organization.
4. The statement that PLSL voted to not allow RYJ and HH to play with us is factually inaccurate. We did vote to protect the rights of founding members by providing preemptive rights against other organizations within the same city or school district. Since many of us, RYAA, Wylie, and the Rockwall Texans (just to name a few) all have competing organizations within the same city, we were concerned that if a competing organization was allowed in the league, it could alter the recruiting options for existing members. Since the Rockwall Texans were already a founding member of PLSL, RYJ and HH would need to work out any boundary lines in advance of acceptance into the league. PLSL decided that coming to that agreement was not something we could tackle for the current 2019 year, and thus RYJ and HH would need to find a different league to play in for the current year. They appear to have found a league they are happy with, and therefore you can see it did not affect them negatively.
I hope this information helps you understand the things that have transpired over the last few months. We are looking forward to all the great things our new league offers us, and we hope you will enjoy those benefits as well. Please let us know if you have any questions. Thanks.
Rowlett Youth Athletic Association – RYAA
PO Box 130654
Dallas, TX 75313
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