Football FAQ

Who are the Columbia Ravens?

The Columbia Ravens is a volunteer organization that aspires to be the premier organization in Howard County, Maryland and the surrounding communities for developing youth to compete at the highest level in football, basketball and cheer.

Founded in 2003 as a nonprofit corporation, the Ravens have promoted the exclusive purpose of teaching the youth of our community the sport of football.  Programs in basketball and cheer were later added to address growing demands and interest within the community.

The goals and objectives of the organization include:

  • Fostering an environment that encourages youth to strive for excellence both on and off the field of play
  • Providing equal and affordable access to sport programs for all youth
  • Providing a safe, well-structured setting for youth to learn the fundamentals of football, basketball and cheer and promoting the general well-being of all players
  • Providing opportunities for players and their families to give back to their communities and make a positive difference in the lives of others.
  • The organization is treated as a public charity and is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Therefore, all donations are tax-deductible for federal income tax purposes.

What do I need to do in order to have my child participate?

Players and families may register in several ways:

  • Walk-up registrations at locations and dates announced. See Calendar for next walk-up registration dates.
  • Online Registration 

What is the Volunteer Bond?

Our on-field and off-field activities are managed solely by the volunteer efforts of every family that participates in the program. To ensure that each family member contributes equally throughout the season (at least one activity during one home game) and eliminate last-minute schedule changes or impact on game-day activities for players and coaches, we will collect a $100 bond check made payable to the Columbia Ravens during equipment distribution.

This check will not be cashed and will be returned to you at the end of the season if all volunteer commitments (field set-up/break-down, game-day spotting, game-day concessions, etc.) are met. Failure to participate in a scheduled volunteer activity with no attempt to re-schedule or minimize the impact on other volunteers or your coaching staff will result in the forfeiture of the Volunteer Bond.

What equipment does the program provide?

To offset the cost of new equipment and reconditioning the organization will rent helmet and shoulder pads to be used during the season.

A $100 equipment deposit will be collected during equipment distribution and will be returned to you at the end of the season, if all equipment is returned in good condition.

Each player must acquire the following:

  • Football pants with knee pads thigh pads hip pads and tail bone pad
  • Chin straps (recommend you purchase spares)
  • Mouth piece (recommend you purchase spares)
  • Athletic supporter with cup
  • Socks
  • Cleats

Are game jersey's provided by the organization?

Yes, the registration fee includes the cost of one game jersey from the Columbia Ravens.  The jersey is yours to keep at the end of the season.

What other items are required to play?

All players must have a valid MVA ID or a league-issued ID card.
Instructions for obtaining a MVA ID

Every Player is required to have a signed Medical form by the doctor.

What is the practice schedule prior to the start of school?

Fall 2017

Four-week MANDATORY preseason camp begins on July 26, 2017. 

Practice schedule is Monday - Friday 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm (weather permitting).  Sign up for Rain Out

Scrimmages are usually held on Saturdays beginning in August. Some teams may hold Saturday practices in lieu of a scrimmage.

Football is a sport that requires a significant amount of practice time to understand game strategy and basic techniques and build the concept of team, therefore it is extremely important that each child attend all practices regularly. Preseason practices are a crucial time for evaluating player fundamentals and skill levels. These evaluations are important for player placement on teams and may ultimately affect the amount of playing time a player has during the regular season.

We understand that practice may begin during previously scheduled vacations and that your player may consequently miss some practice. If this occurs, let one of the registration committee members or coaches in your age group know as soon as possible.

Where will practices take place?

Our practice fields are located behind Harper's Choice Middle School

How often do teams practice once school starts?

Once school starts, practice will take place three times per week for a maximum of 6 hours per week.

The coach will determine which three days per week practice will be held. Weekday practice is usually scheduled from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. Coaches may modify the time as needed.

Should your team have a bye during a specific week, the coach may elect to have an additional practice or scrimmage that week.

How can missing practice affect playing time for that week's game?

Although our league has policies requiring minimum plays for all players, repeated and/or unexcused absence from practice can result in a reduction in playing time. The head coach will determine the amount of playing time the player will receive during that week's game, based on the circumstances. All players are expected to be present and on time ready to participate.  This means the player has his/her helmet, shoulder pads, practice jersey, pants, cleats, cup and mouth piece on and ready start practice.  

What youth league does the Columbia Ravens organization participate in?

The Columbia Ravens are members of the Mid Maryland Youth Football and Cheer League (MMYFCL) and compete against teams from Howard, Carroll, Montgomery, Frederick, Prince George’s and Baltimore Counties. The MMYFCL is divided into several divisions for tackle football based on experience and skill level. Players are better served when they are placed in the appropriate competition level. This ensures maximum player development and playing time. For more information on the MMYFCL please visit the MMYFCL web site. During the season, game schedules, scores and standings, and field directions can be found on the MMYFCL site.

When and where are games played?

Regular season games will begin in late August or early September and will take place on Saturdays. Generally, our younger age teams will play earlier in the day and our older teams will play in the afternoon and early evening. Our primary home field is Field #6 in the Cedar Lane West complex in Columbia. Away games will take place in Howard, Carroll, Montgomery, Frederick, Prince George’s and Baltimore Counties. We will likely have an equal number of home and away games this season.

How many teams are the Columbia Ravens expecting to field this season?

The Ravens will be fielding at least two teams in each of the following age groups: 8U, 9U, 10U, 11U, 12U and 14U. A third team may be added based on the number of player registrations and coaching availability. In addition, we plan to field at least one Pit-Bull (5-6) team this fall. It is recommended that you register early. In past seasons, we were forced to close registration in some age groups early.

How are team selections made?

There is an evaluation process that takes place during the first week of practice. At that time, all players will be evaluated by age group and placed on teams based on where the coaches think they will best perform and have the best opportunity for growth.

Prior to the start of the season, the Columbia Ravens will send out notices for football camps and conditioning sessions that can help your player enhance their skills. THESE ACTIVITIES ARE NOT MANDATORY, but highly recommended to help improve player confidence and skills.

Can I request a specific team for my child to play on?

Although car-pooling and other scheduling constraints may make it easier on families to have friends or neighbors play on the same team, the organization can not make special accommodations solely for team requests. It is important for both developmental and safety reason that players are placed on teams based on experience and skill level.

How are coaches selected?

The Columbia Ravens organization takes coaching very seriously. Each coach is required to interview with the Board of Directors, submit an application and background check and complete several hours of training before taking the field.

What are the age and weight guidelines for the football program?

The age and weight guidelines are determined by the MMYFCL.
Age determination is as of August 1st.  A player with a birthday after this date will qualify for the younger age group, assuming their weight is also in line with the given weight range. For example, a player that is 10 on 8/1/16 and has a birthday in October can play in the 10U age group.

Is my child guaranteed to play?

The MMYFCL has a mandatory play rule. Each player must participate in the game, as noted below.
19 or less players National Conference – each player must play 8 plays
20 or more players National Conference – each player must play 6 plays

19 or less players American Conference – each player must play 8 plays
20 or more players American Conference – each player must play 6 plays

11 to 20 players Federal Conference – each player must play 16 plays
21 to 25 players Federal Conference – each player must play 14 plays
26 to 30 players Federal Conference – each player must play 12 plays
31 to 35 players Federal Conference – each player must play 10 plays


I would like to help as a head coach or assistant coach this season. Are the coaching slots full?

If you or someone you know is interested in coaching, please contact the Director of Football for more details.  The success of our program is based on the hard work and dedication of our coaching staff. The organization takes the selection and training of our coaches seriously and all of our head coaches and their respective staffs are required to participate in coaching clinics throughout the off-season. 

Is financial assistance available?

The Columbia Ravens believe that no child should be turned away due to financial hardships. We offer a limited number of partial scholarships of the registration fee based on need. Scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Since our program strives primarily to serve the residents of Howard County, preference is given to Howard County residents. 

I would like to have more than one child participate this season. Are multi-child discounts offered?

If you have a second child participating, the 2nd child will receive a discount off the registration fee. There are similar discounts applied across the football and cheerleading program. If one child plays in the football program and another participates as a cheerleader, the discount will apply to the lesser registration.

What if I need to request a refund?

This policy is strictly enforced.

$25 administrative fee will be deducted from refund requests made before July 1, 2017.

50% administrative fee will be deducted from refund request made July 1 - August 15, 2017.

NO REFUNDS WILL BE PROCESSED AFTER AUGUST 15, regardless of registration date.

I have specific questions regarding registration that I could not address via the online registration site. How can I contact the organization?

Please email your specific question to the registration committee. It is important that you include your child’s name, age, and weight and as much detail as you can provide in your question. 

External links are provided for reference purposes. Columbia Ravens is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites.

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