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Youth Football Players Get NFL-Like Treatment

By Loren Nelson, 10/16/17, 1:00PM CDT

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Gary Wipperman of the Wisconsin AAYFL goes to great length to showcase leagues

Gary Wipperman works tirelessly to give players in the Wisconsin AAYFL the sort of coverage normally reserved for colleges and the pros.

Name: Gary Wipperman

Sites: Oconomowoc Youth Football and Wisconsin AAYFL

Positions: President (Oconomowoc Youth Football), Director of Social Media and Digital Content (Wisconsin AAYFL)

Use of platform: Oconomowoc Youth Football:  Dibs, PowerPay RegistrationSitebuilder; Wisconsin All-American Youth Football League: PowerPay, League, Sitebuilder, Verify

Background: Before becoming one of the most active and innovative youth football webmasters in the nation, Garry Wipperman’s previous and self-described “claim to fame” was growing up in the same rural Nebraska town (Pawnee City; population 878) as Larry the Cable Guy. Wipperman was a freshman when the future celebrity comedian, actor and country music singer Daniel Lawrence Whitney was a senior at Pawnee City High School. “He’s a great guy, he really is,” Wipperman said about Whitney, who Wipperman said has provided Pawnee City High School with a new sound system and floor for its gymnasium, among other donations. Wipperman played football, basketball, baseball and track in high school, and he forged his love for football while cheering for Nerbraska’s beloved Cornhuskers as kid. Wipperman is still a Huskers fans, but his allegiances now lie mostly in Wisconsin, where he has lived for the last 13 years. “I love Wisconsin,” said Wipperman, who lives in in the far western Milwaukee suburb of Oconomowoc. “Honestly, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.” Wipperman attended Northwest Missouri State, where he attempted unsuccessfully to walk on to the basketball team. He said he went to school for an education degree but has ended up working in corporate sales for most of the last 20 years. His satisfies his passion for working with kids by taking the promotion and coverage of Wisconsin’s largest youth football league (home to 38 clubs) to unprecedented heights. The youngest of his five children, Drew, is a junior starting as a defensive lineman on Oconomowoc’s high school football team.

What he does: Wipperman handles most all administrative aspects of Oconomowoc Youth Football and leads all the digital content and social media initiatives for Wisconsin All-American Youth Football League. Wipperman has been streaming live video broadcasts from selected games all season on Facebook, a huge hit with parents and other family members unable to attend all of the games. “I had a dad tell me his son plays for one of our teams, and he was heartbroken he wasn’t going to be there to watch him play because he had to go to North Dakota to work. Then he was thrilled to learn he could watch the game online. It gives me goose bumps even talking about it.” Wipperman said he also learned of one parent bringing a laptop to a nursing home and setting it up so a grandfather of one of the players could watch his grandson play. “I do the whole thing,” Wipperman said of his broadcasts. “I do play-by-play. We do coaches interviews, player interviews. We really ham it up.” Wipperman, who said his first live broadcast got 9,000 views, also posts weekly power rankings and offers his predictions of upcoming big games. He even provided detailed playoff scenarios so parents and players for every team in contention for a playoff berth knew where they stood at all times. “It’s nuts,” Wipperman said of the league’s fan following. “If I don’t have power rankings out by Tuesday, I start have parents commenting right away on Facebook asking where they are.” Wipperman said his reward for predicting one key game wrong was to be doused by a bucket of water on the sideline by the winning team. “I loved it,” he said.

Making his mark: Realizing that football, as popular as it is in Wisconsin, is competing with multiple sports for athletes, Wipperman touts the longevity and history of the league as much as possible. The About AAYFL section he created on the league’s website includes lists of the league's Grand Championship results dating to 1977. He’s also been proactive in sharing the league’s safety initiatives, highlighted by the league’s partnership with USA Football.

Fun fact: In January 1984 then-league commissioner Jim Jarecki sent his first correspondence to the membership with what became his signature closing “Just for Kids.” That tagline is still used for most Commissioner correspondence today.

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About Loren Nelson

Loren Nelson is Community Manager at SportsEngine. He is also the National Media Editor and has served in a variety of other customer facing and media roles since 2009.

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