Fast-growing youth sports organization restores the roar to CH-UH athletics

Heights High senior quarterback Taylor Jones (#5) in 2008, when he was 11, and a star player for the Tigers Youth Football Program. [photo by Val Moreland]

While the City of Cleveland Heights offers a wide variety of youth sports activities, it does not offer some staple programs that many families look for, such as tackle football, cheerleading, wrestling, and track and field. The Cleveland Heights Tigers Youth Sports Association (CHTYSA), a 501(c)3 nonprofit community organization serving children within the CH-UH school district, will soon change that.

CHTYSA's mission is to serve as a feeder system to the local school district’s middle school and high school athletic programs by providing youth athletes an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of each sport in a safe, nurturing and fun environment.

In 2008, Jeff Rotsky, former Heights High football coach, secured funding from the NFL and Heights alum Barry Cofield to establish youth football here—CHTYSA's first program. Later that year, Nellie Basit, varsity cheerleading coach at Heights, established the youth cheer program. Together, these two activities serve nearly 300 children and comprise one of Northeast Ohio's largest youth sports programs.

In 2012, the fifth- and sixth-grade Gold Team won the North Coast Youth Football Conference Championship and advanced to regionals in Michigan—going on to play in the national tournament in Orlando, Fla.

Last year, with help from Nick Continenza, Heights High's varsity track and field coach, CHTYSA established a track and field program, which sent 11 athletes to Kentucky to compete in the USA Track & Field Regional Championships, and five to Texas for the Junior Olympics. In the winter, CHTYSA will launch a youth wrestling program for boys ages 5–12, under the direction of Willie Newton, Heights varsity wrestling coach. 

The CHTYSA Tigers are currently recruiting new participants for its track and field club (ages 6–14), and its youth cheer and tackle football programs (ages 5–11), for the 2015 season.

To register for youth track and field, please Derrick Fair at 216-773-6075 or Alana Williams at 216-659-1224. Registration for youth football and cheer will take place in the cafeteria at Cleveland Heights High School on May 9 and 23, and June 13, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Visit for more information and details, or e-mail


Michael Payne

Michael Payne, a Cleveland Heights resident, is a biomedical researcher at Case Western Reserve University. He is president/executive director for the Cleveland Heights Tigers Youth Sports Association Inc., and vice president of North Coast Youth Football Conference.

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Volume 8, Issue 5, Posted 4:22 PM, 04.30.2015