Plum Midget Football Association celebrating 50th anniversary
Things have been golden around the Plum Midget Football Association for a long time, which is why it should come as no surprise to many that the 2018 season marks the association’s 50th anniversary.
“There’s not a better community in my opinion, or is there a better organization to be a part of,” said first-year PMFA president Jimmy Reese, who has been with the organization since 2010. “We have wonderful parents and a wonderful board, and that makes my job easy.”
Like any fledgling organization, PMFA came from humble beginnings when it first took to the field in 1968 under the leadership of Dutch Taylor.
From practicing in the outfield of the Plum Boro baseball fields in the 1970s and ’80s to practicing at Pivik Elementary School to PMFA’s current home at Herita Field just off Ross Hollow Road, the association’s growth and success can be attributed to the community as a whole.
“It’s the people of the community, the parents, the volunteers and the businesses that contribute to it,” PMFA board member Doug Harchick said.
Harchick has pretty much seen it all as a player, as a coach and a board member in his 27 years with PMFA.
“When we moved down there to Herita Field, (Rich Herita) did a tremendous amount of work getting the field for the organization,” Harchick said. “We built a two-story building, storage, a meeting area and bathrooms.”
Harchick said most of what makes up Herita Field was made possible by generous donations from community members, namely Gordon Kidd.
All of that was just for practice. PMFA still plays all of it’s home games at the Plum High School football field where banners commemorating PMFA’s golden anniversary hang.
In addition to the community, it’s the relationship PMFA has with Plum football coach Matt Morgan and the Mustangs football team that has helped lay down a pipeline for players to travel from youth football all the way up to the varsity ranks.
As legend has it, Morgan wasn’t able to play for PMFA growing up because he was too big for his age group. None of that has stopped Morgan, a former Plum and Pitt offensive lineman who went on to play in the NFL for the Bills and Rams, from reaching out to the youth levels to hold camps for the players and clinics for the coaches.
“Morgan is very supportive of the organization and helps out and coaches,” Harchik said.
Building a winning tradition and sustaining it is another key to an organization’s longevity. Harchick said all four teams in the organization have brought home championships in the last 10 years. Most recently, the Little Ponies, PMFA’s 5-6 year old age group, earned a title in flag football. The biggest team, the Little Mustangs (11-12 year-olds), won back-to-back Big East Youth Football League titles in 2007-08 and the Little Colts (7-8 year-olds) won their age group in 2016.
Reese said there will be 50th anniversary programs sold at the PMFA home games that include photos from past teams, and they are trying to rally some former players and board members to take part in the celebration.
Just like any youth sports organization, Reese is humble enough to know it’s the volunteers that spend endless hours at the facility that make everything work.
“I’m not the most important person down there,” Reese said. “Our concession stand coordinator and treasurer are the most important people. It makes it easy to be surrounded by such great people.”
William Whalen is a freelance writer.