Change is inevitable and not just change for change sake, but one that can make a difference.
For 27 years, the Adam Taliaferro Foundation All-Star Football Classic, featuring the best graduating players from throughout South Jersey, has taken place in late June at Rowan University. But the foundation has decided it had its run in its present format, and ATF leaders have decided to change the look of the classic.
Taking its place will be the inaugural Larry Ginsburg ATF Classic, a 7-on-7 tournament open to high schools, junior high schools and youth teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. It will still be held at Rowan University’s Richard Wackar Stadium and the dates this year are June 24-26. The tournament is named after Ginsburg, the former Eastern Regional High School head coach and the head man when Taliaferro was a standout running back and cornerback for the Vikings. He is a founding member of the Adam Taliaferro Foundation.
There are two reasons for the change. One is the changing landscape in New Jersey scholastic football which has made it difficult to get coaches to make the commitment because running their own teams has become almost a 12-month commitment and, understandably, the cost of putting the game on just keeps rising.
“With all the changes in high school sports in New Jersey we just couldn’t get the commitment from the coaches,” said Tom Iacovone, the president of the Adam Taliaferro Foundation. “I think that is the biggest thing – the changes in football in New Jersey. So, the committee followed up on that. With formal practices starting in August the coaches don’t have the time. Their supervising their own lifting programs and participating in 7-on-7 leagues and they barely have time to spend with their families and vacations.”
The rising costs of putting the game on every year was also an important consideration. As costs increase there is less money being raised for the foundation’s mission – helping people who have suffered spinal cord injuries.
“It is just getting so expensive to put up 100 people and feed them for four days (at Rowan),” Iacovone said. “It’s a lot of work. Every dime we make goes to help people with spinal cord injuries. We’ve raised a lot of money over the years, but we also have a lot of expenses.”
As of last Friday, Iacovone said they have received entries from 12 teams and verbal commitments from five or six more. He believes they would need a minimum of 24 teams to be successful this year. The foundation has received positive feedback from both the South Jersey football coaches and potential sponsors.
It will be a three-day event with a fair-like atmosphere. Two fields will be set up and each team will be guaranteed three games. Teams will participate in pool play on Monday and Tuesday with the eight teams qualifying for the playoffs returning on Wednesday. There will also be an area with tables for vendors.
“If we get 24 teams you’re talking 250 participants as opposed to 80.” Iacovone pointed out. “We’ll work to accommodate anyone’s schedule. If you can’t make it Monday, we’ll schedule you for Tuesday. We know schools participate in 7-on-7 leagues throughout the summer. We’re not trying to supplant those leagues. We’re trying to bring schools together for a common goal.”
For more information and to register for the tournament, coaches can visit the Adam Taliaferro Foundation website at www.taliaferrofoundation.org to fill out the online registration form.
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