Our History

How the Joe MacDonald Youth Football League came to be.

In the early 90’s,  the once dominate force of the Sudbury Spartan’s had fallen on hard times.


The number of players coming out to play in the senior men’s league had declined and high school football numbers were the lowest they had been in years.  In fact the number of high school teams in the league had sunk to only 3.


Sid Forster, long time coach of the Sudbury Spartan’s as well as a coach in the high school league, decided that if we wanted football to survive in Sudbury that a youth league should be started as a feeder system for high school and eventually the Spartans.


In 1993 Sid had decided that he was going to call a group together to see if there was enough interest to start a league. While the planning stages were beginning for this inaugural meeting, a local police officer Constable Joseph MacDonald was shot and killed in the line of duty while making a routine traffic stop. Constable MacDonald was not only a police officer but happened to be a former Carleton Raven’s Football player and Sudbury Spartan.


On a cold winter’s day in December 1993, a group of 40 or so players/coaches/parents and friends gathered at the old Sheraton Caswell hotel.   Sid laid out his idea of starting a league and suggested that it be in honour of Joe.


A month or so later another meeting was called and this time the number of dedicated individuals had now shrunk to 8. This group went on to become the original Joe MacDonald Youth Football League executive.  Not knowing where they would get the money, the coaches or the players, these individuals spent hundreds of hours preparing a league philosophy, constitution and modified football rules.

Standing L to R: Al Lekun, John Larsen, Frank Pagnucco, Sid Forster

Kneeling L to R: Mike Fabilli, Neri Fratin, Mike Staffen, Chris Bartolucci

A businessman and a long time friend of the Sudbury Spartans, Mr Phil Smith Sr. donated a significant amount of money to allow for the purchase of the football equipment in addition to funds from the Sudbury Kinsmen Club.  With this seed money and a desire to honour Joe,  the group of individuals began registering boys and girls to play in the league.


Labour Day Monday, September 1994 the official kick off was held at Lily Creek Sports Complex(later named James Jerome Sports Complex) with dignitaries, the chief of police, friends and family of Joe. That was the beginning of this great league.

In the final game of the season while filming the championship games on the sideline, Sid Forster fell ill and was also taken from us. This too,  was a significant passing of a friend and a football legend in Sudbury.


The executive continued to work hard paying off its debts and giving an opportunity for boys and girls to enjoy the game of tackle football in the league. The executive worked with the city to erect a monument to recognize Sid’s contribution to the league and to the game of football in Sudbury. The league also officially changed the tyke division to the Sid Forster Tyke Division and Phil Smith Sr Bantam Division.


At the 10 year anniversary the league again expanded to include a younger strictly developmental division named the Mini MAC’s. The division was named after 3 of the original founding members that had continued to serve on the executive at that time. Mike Staffen, Al Lekun and Chris Bartolucci. Mike Al and Chris Stayed - MAC’s. All three of these individuals have continued to serve on the executive for more than 20 years.


Thousands of children have been involved in the Joe MacDonald league,  learning not only how to play football but the fundamentals of how to be a good citizen through team work and dedication to this wonderful sport.


Joe’s spirit lives on in the all individuals that participate and run this league.


Jim Piakoski, Defensive Lineman

Eastern Michigan University
Ottawa Rough Riders 1972 to 1982


Gene Ceppetelli, Offensive Lineman
Villanova University
Hamilton Tiger Cats 1963 to 1967
Ottawa Rough Riders 1968
Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) 1968, 1969
New York Giants (NFL) 1969
Montreal Alouettes 1970, 1971

Blaine Schmidt, Offensive Lineman
Guelph University
Toronto Argonauts 1987 to 1994
Hamilton Tiger Cats 1995 to 1997


Mike Derks, Offensive Lineman
University of Cincinnati
Hamilton Tiger Cats 1985 to 1990


Mike Kovacs, Offensive Lineman
Western University
Montreal Alouettes 1953 to 1961

Kari Yli-Renko, Offensive Lineman
University of Cincinnati
New Jersey General (USFL) 1984
Hamilton Tiger Cats 1985
Calgary Stampeders 1985 to 1987
Ottawa Rough Riders 1988 to 1992


Frank Rocca, Offensive Lineman
Eastern Michigan University
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1997
Hamilton Tiger Cats 1998, 1999
Toronto Argonauts 2000

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