By Maddie Joiner
For the Opelika Observer

Playing college football requires more than just playing well. Student-athletes must have good grades, access to recruiting camps and constant connections with college coaches. The problem is, not every athlete interested in college football has access to those things. Kayla Steffey-Bates, Executive Director of The Football Mom Playbook Organization, is working toward erasing that problem.

Steffey-Bates has been involved in the football world since her son Jackson, 17, was six years old. She started off working as a manager and then branched out to photography.

When her son entered middle school, he became a quarterback and needed extra training. This is when Steffey Bates got exposed to trainers, camps and the importance of recruiting.

“Along the way, I learned about the camp circuit, about 7v7 and travel football and all the advantages that has,” she said. “But also, I learned about the college recruiting aspect of things and the process and kind of saw some gaps with communication to parents, but also for the players.”

Steffey-Bates explained that trying to gain exposure can be difficult for student-athletes, and when academics are thrown into the mix even fewer athletes get opportunities.

She found that many players in the Lee County area have missed out on Division One opportunities due to falling short on academic requirements, so she looked for a solution.

“That’s kind of been my driving force, knowing that someone has talent and has potential, and just not having the threshold, and to be able to get to where their goal is,” Steffey-Bates said.

And thus, The Football Mom Playbook was born.

While the organization has three main goals, the primary focus is education. Their goal is to have SAT, ACT and academic tutoring services available to the community, with a focus on students who fall within a lower economic threshold.

Steffey-Bates has worked in the medical field for over 20 years and both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees are health-related. She also works in higher education and has over 10 years of tutoring experience in science, writing and organizational study skills.

The organization also teaches life skills with a financial focus so players can be successful while off at school and away from their parents.

The Football Mom Playbook Organization’s football aspect focuses on getting players exposure to colleges and recruiters.

“Providing transportation to camp, and any opportunities that I can get kids who qualify and who are talented in front of coaches and recruiters is also my vision,” said Steffey-Bates.

If any players in the area are interested in intending these camps, Steffey-Bates urges you to reach out. There are four upcoming camps Steffey-Bates is working with, two in June, at Troy and Lagrange, and two in July, one at the University of West Alabama and one in Florida.

For more information regarding camps visit their Facebook page: BAMA Elite 18u 7v7 football.  

BAMA Elite 7v7 plays in the spring and then attends camps during the summer in preparation for fall football. They placed 4th nationally in a tournament this spring.

In the 7v7 tournaments, linemen are taken out so only skill players are left. Doing this allows the skill players to enhance their performance in preparation for high school ball. This also allows players to play a different or new position, as VJ Leverett did.

Leverett is a rising senior at Auburn High School and plays wide receiver for the Tigers. On BAMA Elite 7v7, Leverett had the chance to play safety and corner. His defensive performance earned him Defensive MVP in a tournament this spring.

Leverett has been on the team since February and plans to attend multiple summer camps with the squad.

The Football Mom Playbook is currently working towards nonprofit status so they can provide scholarships for camps and financial aid for tutoring services. While the organization’s title includes football, they are open to helping anyone.

“The educational side of this is open to anyone in the community that would need any type of tutoring, ACT or SAT prep, it not just indicative of football or athletes,” Steffey-Bates said.

While the organization awaits nonprofit status, they are accepting one-time sponsorship donations ranging from $30 to $150. For more information regarding donations contact Steffey-Bates at 334-750-7262.

They hope to earn enough money to attend future 7v7 events the team qualifies for.

Until then, these talented high school players will attend camps over the summer in preparation to take the field under those fall Friday night lights.