Centre Bulldogs is the premier youth football league in the State College (PA) area. Boys and girls, ages 5 to 13, can participate in our youth football and cheerleading organization.
The program stresses self-discipline, teamwork, concentration, friendship, leadership and sportsmanship.
The coaches are committed to making the game fun for all boys and girls. The Centre Bulldogs organization offers a truly unique experience for its coaches, players and families.
Build Self Esteem in young players.
Understand the game of football.
Learn the fundamentals and have fun.
Lead through enthusiasm and action, not words.
Discipline and integrity.
Operate as one team.
Gain an appreciation for the game.
Sportsmanship leads to class, dignity and respect.
Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, playing in a well run, competitive youth football league, coaching at a high school level, and playing at a college level, gave me a great appreciation and respect for the game of football. When we moved to State College in 1996, I was surprised to find that there were no organized youth football leagues that played neighboring youth football communities.
When I was growing up in the Pittsburgh area, if you wanted to play youth football, you played for the organization in your town. Usually, the organization represented your school district and you played other neighboring school districts. I believe that this was imperative to teaching young people how to be respectful, competitive and enthusiastic about playing a game. I believe that by learning the fundamentals at a young age I was able to stay away from serious injury. I knew that my youth football organization had taught me discipline, self esteem and teamwork which are all attributes of a successful person. I wanted my children to experience the same thing. So, the search was on.
In 1999, my two young sons and I would joke and talk about team names while playing football in the yard. We wanted our name to be recognized in the community. There was a team in the Pittsburgh area called the Morningside Bulldogs and they were always tough and well respected. Thus, the Bulldog name was born. I wanted our organization to have that same respect and I knew that the Bulldogs name would be quickly recognized in a community of Lions.
The only problem I had was finding someone with the same passion. In the fall of 1999, I met Mike Rizzuto. Ironically enough, we met at a high school football game and immediately started talking about the Steelers. In summer 2001, Mike asked me a question, “Are there any youth football organizations in the area?” I said, “No, but I am going to start one. Do you want to help?” Mike said, “Yes.” And, the rest is history.
In late summer 2001, Mike began doing research on Pop Warner. He contacted the national organization and they gave us the name of the regional football commissioner in our area. I called him and we talked about Pop Warner and getting started in State College. He invited us to a meeting. After several league meetings and explaining our intentions to the other associations, we were voted into the Susquehanna Valley Pop Warner league in October 2001.
Next, Mike and I formed a board. Mike was our legal representation with an extensive coaching background in gymnastics. Mike and I quickly learned that we could challenge each other. With my vision and Mike’s close attention to detail, we knew we had the right mix of personalities.
We recruited my neighbor Bob Abel who is now our football commissioner. Bob is great with children and shared our passion for football. He was quickly one of our key people in the start up and continued success of the Centre Bulldogs.
Doug Hartman then called us and said he wanted to be a part of what we were doing. Doug came from another youth football organization and opened our eyes to the single wing offense.
Within a few weeks, we had recruited about 5-6 people for our board. We had to create a logo, develop a fundraising plan, buy equipment, coordinate a registration, and become incorporated. Lots of work to do.
At our first board meeting, we quickly decided that our colors would be dark green and black. With Steelers and Eagles fans on the board, it was not a hard decision. Needless to say that the only Cowboys fan on our board, Bob, was a bit disappointed.
We fumbled around in fundraising until Jeannette Rizzuto decided to bail us out in January 2002. She became our fundraising committee chairperson. Colleen Karas supported us from the beginning with meetings, registration, the many phone calls and the many pitfalls of starting an organization. Without their support, Mike and I would not have been able to get the Bulldogs started.
One thing that I thought was imperative to our success was a set of guiding principles and an official logo. The logo appears on everything that we publish. I spent several weeks working with PAMP Printing developing the logo. I knew that our imaging had to be consistent and recognizable. After several iterations, the Bulldog logo was set.
I wanted our guiding principles to represent what we believe in. I wanted people to be able to read them and quickly understand that we know what we are doing and that our organization is for the kids. The Bulldogs guiding principles are the foundation of the Centre Bulldogs Football and Cheerleading organization. To see the principles, click here.
It is amazing to think that this all started with some simple discussions with my kids, meeting Mike Rizzuto, recruiting guys like Bob Abel and Doug Hartman, and sticking to a vision of what a youth football organization should be. I am sure that we will continue to have challenges as an organization. However, it is through volunteers (moms and dads), sponsors and commitment to our guiding principles that we will continue to prosper and grow as an organization.
Our hope is that each child graduates from the Centre Bulldogs as a more confident individual with a higher self esteem and a greater appreciation and respect for the game and for each other.
– Keith J. Karas