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There’s a new youth team in town

Sports: Santa Clarita Vikings begin registration

Posted: February 10, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 10, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The leadership team of the new Santa Clarita Vikings youth football and cheer program. Registration begins Monday for the team. Back row, from left: Member at large Rett Hicks, Assistant Equipment Manager Derik Hixon, Treasurer Bill Velek, and President Joe Tafoya. Front row, from left: team manager Julie Bretthauer, Cheer Director Jeanette Dava...

A new youth sports team has arrived in the Santa Clarita Valley, and on Monday, SCV residents are invited to register children for the newly formed Santa Clarita Vikings football and cheer teams.

Open to children 7-14, the Santa Clarita Vikings will be built almost from the ground up for their inaugural season.

The leadership of the SC Vikings includes President Joe LaFoya, board member Rett Hicks and head coach Fred Lewis.

“The writing was kind of on the wall that a new organization was needed that could give the kids a better sports experience,” said Joe
LaFoya, president of the SC Vikings and former president of the Castaic Cougars. “We are looking to instill in the kids community pride, self-pride and team pride.”

The SC Vikings will replace the former Castaic Cougars with both a football and cheer program that encompasses a leadership mix from the former Castaic Cougars and the Warrior football teams.

Rett Hicks, former Warrior president and head coach, has 13 years of youth sports experience, but hasn’t yet had a child of his own in the program.

Now he has twin 4-year-old boys who will be of age to play in the program in a few years.

“I want a the very best team for my boys to play on, and for every kid to play on,” Hicks said. “We want the best equipment, the best coaches, the best everything for the kids because we’re not just coaches, we’re also parents.”  

Lewis said the new program is designed to be different from the Cougars and other youth sports football teams in the SCV. 

“Everything from branding the name of the Vikings to uniforms to equipment is all decided with the kids in mind,” Lewis said. “What excites the kids is our focus, not what excites us.”

The SC Vikings will offer year-round training with skills to use both on and off the field as a core focus of the team.

“We are committed to doing what is best for the kids with every decision,” said head coach Fred Lewis. “That doesn’t mean doing what is best for the kids first, that means doing what is best for the kids period.”

Organizers said they will ask every player and coach participating in the SC Vikings program to be committed to giving back to the community in some way with eight hours of volunteer service.

“We believe that teaching kids to give back by example is important,” said LaFoya. “The kids can go clean up the field at Valencia or serve food at the Food Pantry, but the main goal is that they learn to give back to their community.”

The entire SC Vikings organization is 100-percent volunteer with no paid staff or board members.

“Since we will be operating on a volunteer basis, many of the coaches giving their time all week on the field are already doing community service,” said Hicks. “We want to lead by example.”

The SC Vikings are starting out with what they consider to be strong skill set both on and off the field, aligning themselves with Valencia High School.

The program will use Valencia High School’s field and facilities.

In addition, the program will partner with an athletic program known as Phenom.

Phenom is a focused track and field, speed and agility program developed in 2002 by David Joseph. The program is designed to create all around better athletes in football and other sports.

Phenom uses physical training and teaches interpersonal skills such as teamwork, confidence, nutrition and discipline. Skills that can be used both on and off the field.

“Our goal is to develop the whole person in the kids all year-round,” said Lewis. “We want to give the kids an enhanced opportunity and set the goal at excellence for everything they do.”

Organizers said some children have already participated in Phenom, and the program was producing noticeable results.

“We had kids who were just average players before Phenom,” Hicks said. “But after Phenom, these same average kids went into accelerated mode and are now excellent players and excited about playing football.”

The SC Vikings leadership expressed the goal to create a quality team, up through high school to keep the football and cheer talent in the SCV.

Private schools are not under the same California Interscholastic Federation recruiting laws as public schools, therefore they are able to recruit the talent more aggressively out of the SCV and into other locations with attractive athletic programs.

According to the Vikings leadership, the goal is to start children at age 7 and grow them through the program until high school.

Teams will be formed for different age groups, which include Pee Wee, Bantam, Midget, Junior and Senior.

LaFoya said the initial anxiety about saying good-bye to the Cougars has been replaced by excitement.

“At first ... there was some anxiety,” said LaFoya. “However, once the Viking opportunity was presented that anxiety turned into excitement for many parents who now saw the new sporting opportunities open to their kids.”

The Santa Clarita Vikings start registration Monday. The team will host games at Valencia High School. They are looking to be on the field with a complete team for both football and cheer by July. First day of team and cheer practice will be on July 23. To register your child or to find out more about the SC Vikings football and cheer programs, visit


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