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USA Football awards Valley Mustangs $1,000 grant for helmets

MADAWASKA, Maine — USA Football recently awarded the Valley Mustangs a $1,000 grant to finish buying new helmets for the club.

USA Football is a youth organization associated with the NFL that provides training and gives grants to help promote and grow the sport.

The Valley Mustangs has been a club team for over a decade, offering youngsters from communities on both sides of the border in the St. John Valley an opportunity to play tackle football in the Maine Independent Football League.

All members of the coaching staff volunteer their time to the non-profit St. John Valley Mustangs Football Inc., and no one gets paid to work with the players who range from seventh graders to seniors in high school, according to coach Jesse Pettengill.

“We do this because we are trying to provide another sport for the children, other than soccer,” Pettengill said.

By putting on car washes and setting up concession booths at events like the Acadian Festival or the Top O’Maine Trade Show, the team members and supporters raised enough money to buy 30 new helmets at close to $250 per helmet.

“Football is a dangerous sport and we want to play in the safest way possible,” Pettengill said.

Helmets have to be reconditioned after 5 years of use and then replaced after another 5 years, according to the coach.

While they raised money for 30 helmets, Tania Thibeault, the team’s volunteer treasurer applied for the grant and USA Football awarded $1,000 so the team could buy four additional helmets completing the quota for new helmets needed. Although there are less expensive helmets on the market, Pettengill said that these Riddell models are top quality.

“We have a strong belief that safety comes first, and it is a very good quality helmet — the type that college teams would buy,” he said.

The team is split up into two groups, with seventh and eighth graders playing on the  junior varsity team while the 9-12 graders play on the varsity team.

For more information, visit the Mustang Facebook page.

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