Milford Mustangs look to strengthen their roster

MILFORD – A local youth football and cheerleading organization is doubling its efforts to grow and reach out into the local community.

Milford Mustangs Football and Cheer is preparing for a big year with a new field, important partnerships and drive to get more kids off the couch and onto the field. This local sports program has operated successfully for more than seven years, but has been facing a drop in participation in recent years. The young athletes who came into the program are in college now and new recruits are needed.

“We have our ups and downs like any other sports program, but we are slowly moving along,” said Milford Mustangs President Charlie Vitali. “We have a pretty big area to draw from and this is a great program for kids to get involved in.”

In its prime, the Milford Mustangs has had as many as 240 players and cheerleaders between 5 and 14 years old participating. As the program grew, members of the board clashed as they faced accusations of conflicts of interest and intimidation. Complaints of the board’s conduct made their way to the attorney general’s office, which led to an investigation into the financial records of the Milford Mustangs.

The investigation showed that, although financial records were lacking, there was no evidence of board members wrongfully handling funds. Vitali admits that was the least of the board’s problems during that time, but the new board is running a completely different and improved program.

Every financial transaction is documented correctly and the board has revamped its bylaws to address any issues with conduct and conflicts of interest within the club. Vitali is the longest sitting member of the board and sees an improved operation that focuses on being open to both families and the community. Football director Dennis Shepard said that their partnerships with the Souhegan Valley Boys & Girls Club and Hampshire Hills are getting more and more youths interested in the program. The Milford Mustangs are offering skill-building camps, training and additional support to these partners, while they in turn feed interested youngsters to the program. Work is also being done to connect the Milford Mustangs to local school systems.

All of these efforts are joined by the fact that the Milford Mustangs will have a new home field to call their own next year. A generous donation of land to the program cuts their field budget in half and allows more resources to be used elsewhere, according to Vitali.

The Milford Mustangs branched off from the Amherst Patriots in 2006 and has seen its young athletes earn their fair share of championship wins and awards. Recently, the Milford Mustangs Girls Cheer Team placed first in their division before holding their own with a fourth-place finish at the Regional Cheer Competition held at the XL Center in Hartford, CT. The sixth-grader football team proved their worth after defending their title at the New Hampshire Youth Football & Spirit Conference Division 2 game this fall.

Cheer Director Terri Mcneil said that expanding the cheer and football programs is vital to maintain the legacy of this highly-successful sports program. Their focus on enhancing communications locally and rebuilding will ensure that future generations can continue the tradition.

“We have a very dedicated group of people who want to see this program continue,” Mcneil said. “This is a dream of a group of individuals who had a love for football and wanted to bring it to Milford. We are looking to rebuild the program and make it strong from the bottom up.”

The men and women on the Milford Mustangs board are primed and excited to see the fruits of their efforts to bring their program to the next level. They are looking for more volunteers for board members and coaches willing to dedicate their time to these young athletes.

The Milford Mustangs are also seeking sponsors to support them as they grow and prepare for their next season. For more information, visit www.milfordmustangs.org or navigate to the “Milford Mustangs Youth Football and Cheerleading Assoc.” page on Facebook.