Nation’s Largest AAU Youth Football and Cheer Club Cancel Fall Season Due to COVID-19 Concerns
ORLANDO, Florida — July 13, 2020 – The East Orlando Preds, the nation’s largest AAU Youth Football and Cheer Club, has always been committed to the health, safety, and the positive development of our athletes and families. For that reason, the Preds have made the very difficult decision to not participate in the 2020 Fall football and cheer season due to the negative effects of COVID-19 in our community and country.
Since being established in 2013, the East Orlando Preds football and cheer programs have had tremendous success. The Preds football program has captured 5 FYFCL Super Bowl championships, including back-to-back 14U undefeated championship seasons (2018 & 2019), and have played in a total of 10 FYFCL Super Bowls. The Preds are the only club in the country to send all four of their tackle football teams to the AAU National Football championship 3 out of the past 4 seasons. In 2019, the Preds 14U football team finished 17-0, AAU National Football Champions, and were featured Super Bowl Sunday on Fox News’ Fox & Friends telecast on their South Beach Super Bowl set. Today, more than 15 Preds student-athletes are playing or entering their first year of collegiate athletics, while another 7 high school players have current collegiate sports scholarship offers.
On the cheer mat, the East Orlando Preds Cheer Program has dominated youth cheer in the Central Florida region with over 50 first-place finishes, and over 100 2nd and 3rd place finishes over the past 6 seasons, including being named Grand, Spirit or Arena champion over 25 times. The past two years, the East Orlando Preds cheer squads have won three UYFL National Cheer Championships at the 14U and 12U levels.
While the Preds love to compete, and are committed to excellence on and off the football field and cheer mat, they have always done so with health and safety at the forefront. The Preds have invested in the best and safest equipment, training, and tools for all of our athletes and coaches. Preds football players are outfitted in five-star rated, Xenith football helmets. All Preds football coaches are USA Football Heads Up Tackle Certified, and annually the football program conducts the USA Football Heads Up Tackling training session with athletes and parents so help teach Preds football families proper tackling form and technique so they can identify that proper technique is being used by their own athletes in an effort to reduce concussions, CTE, and other neck and spine issues. The Preds forged a first of its kind partnership with Orlando Ortho which led to the development of a concussion and injury website and protocol allowing Pred families to immediately seek information and seek medical support to be treated for any issues resulting from head, neck or back injuries.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 is having a devastating and disproportional impact on multi-generational and lower-income households,” said East Orlando Preds President, Shawn Seipler. “Cases of diabetes, asthma, obesity, heart disease and hypertension exist at higher rates in these at-risk communities. Individuals with these underlying conditions have the greatest health risk to COVID-19. And with so little information about the long term impacts of the virus, and the number of cases and infection rates rising among younger individuals, who are carriers of the virus, we do not feel it is prudent to have youth football and cheer this fall. We can wait until early 2021, after proven treatments and a potential vaccine are available, to do our part to stop the spread and to keep our families safe.”
Shawn Seipler, President of the East Orlando Preds, and Head Coach of the 14U football team and is also the Founder and CEO of Clean the World (www.cleantheworld.org), a global impact, a social enterprise that distributes soap and provides WASH education to at-risk populations across the U.S. and worldwide. Clean the World Foundation, the 501(c)3 that Seipler founded, is a member of the United Nations Global WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) Cluster and has been a leading organization distributing soap and hygiene kits globally during the COVID-19 pandemic. Six members of the East Orlando Preds Board of Directors are Clean the World team members, including the reigning Arena Bowl Champion Head Coach Rob Keefe, who serves as the Preds football commissioner.
“When you see what the NFL, college football and other professional sports leagues are doing around the country right now, in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, with tremendous resources at their disposal, it just did not feel right for us to proceed this year, knowing we do not have the same resources and medical experts in place to protect our families”, said Head Coach Rob Keefe. “We encourage all youth football and sports organizations to take a hard look at what they are accomplishing right now by attempting to have fall sports. It may be time for us to concentrate on the classroom, delivering safe and healthy education, and finding healthy alternatives to mental and physical engagement for our youth, that incorporates the necessary precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
The East Orlando Preds, now the proud feeder program to Colonial High School, will be back and will proceed with the 2021 season when things are safe to do so. “The Colonial High School Grenadier football program is very excited to partner with one of the country’s top youth feeder programs,” said Colonial High School Head Football Coach Donny Hodges, who recently joined the Preds Board of Directors. “We fully support the decision to resume the Preds youth football and cheer organization activities in early 2021 and are very excited about our future together.”
About the East Orlando Preds:
The East Orlando Preds are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and the largest A.A.U Sports Youth Football and Cheer Club in the country. With athletes ranging in age from 5 – 15 years old, the Preds are designed to introduce, cultivate, and enhance players’ skill and passion for the game of football and cheerleading. The East Orlando Preds are committed to winning and excellence, both on and off the field, through positive coaching, encouragement, and youth development. We strive to ensure the success and growth of our young men and woman in every facet of their lives including in the sports arena, and by creating leaders, role models, and positive contributors in our communities.