Otterbein Alumnus and Former Pro Athletes Introduces Youth to College through Sports
Posted Aug 04, 2021
Otterbein University alumnus and former professional Arena Football League player Dominic Jones is paying it forward with the Legacy Youth Football League, a new non-profit organization he founded to “build character, sportsmanship, and self-confidence” in children from underserved schools through sports.
The kick-off event for the league includes a K-8 Football Preview at Otterbein on Aug. 7, as well as a cheer showcase at Northside Christian School in Westerville on Aug. 8. Approximately 2,600 children are expected to participate.
“This kick-off event is the start of a new day in youth sports in Columbus,” Jones said. Unlike suburban sports programs, which are often tied directly to local schools, the Legacy Youth Football League serves all K-8 students in central Ohio, with 98% coming from Columbus City Schools.
“The Legacy Youth Football League works in partnership with the City of Columbus to impact the lives of these kids on the field and outside the sport,” Jones said. “Realistically, less than 2% of youth athletes will go pro. We are serving the next city council members, firefighters, police chiefs. Legacy is an extension of my commitment to show the students of Columbus how to use sports as a vehicle to dream and to realize those dreams.”
Everything about the program is intentional. It includes cheer and dance components for girls so every child can participate. The schedule is rigorous — with daily practices from Monday through Thursday and competitions on Sundays — so participants are committing their time to a positive, supportive environment.
And Jones’ partnership with Otterbein is also intentional. “If not for this opportunity, so many of these kids would never set foot on a college campus,” he said. “I want to expand their vision on what is possible.”
Jones intended to hold the first showcase in 2020, but those plans were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We offer an umbrella of services to develop life skills, so when COVID shut down the schools, we shifted our resources to establish a learning extension center. We provided a facility, two meals each day, and on-site tutoring. We gave them everything they needed to keep learning, and I’m proud to say we did all that with zero cases of COVID-19,” he said.
With COVID-19 restrictions lifted, the Legacy Youth Football League refocused its attention on athletics. Participants started conditioning in May and suited up for the first time on July 5. The Legacy Youth Football Preview and Cheer Showcase is the first time the League’s teams will meet.
The Legacy Youth Football League is associated with Legacy U, which develops and prepares high school student-athletes for college and beyond by providing comprehensive workshops, athletic training, and establishing meaningful relationships that strengthen ties to the community and broaden support network.
“Legacy U has been able to pull this citywide youth football, cheer, and dance under its umbrella with the strong support of My Brothers Keeper and Columbus City Council,” said Jones.