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A President's Legacy

April 27, 2023 GEFA Staff

POTTSVILLE - Since taking office as President of the Great Eastern Football Association (GEFA), James Simerson has led the semi-pro eight-man football league to new heights. As his tenure may be coming to an end, Simerson reflects on his accomplishments and the challenges he faced during his time at GEFA.

When asked what inspired him to take on the role of President, Simerson explained, "I had a great mentor in Brian Rodgers. He showed me the ropes when I was his VP in 2018 and when he felt I was ready, he handed over the keys to the dodge."

One of Simerson's biggest accomplishments during his tenure has been increasing the league's visibility and reputation within the community. "As you all know, the league is a 501c3, which means the league does a lot of donations. In 2019, my first year, we adopted a youth football program. In 2020, we donated to the Central Columbia Athletic Department. For the last two years, we have been donating to the Special Olympics of PA.," he said.

Overall, Simerson's tenure at GEFA has been marked by a commitment to excellence. Even thinking bigger, I asked him how has he worked to build positive relationships with other leagues? "In 2017, I worked with the MIFL to do the GEFA/MIFL All-Star game, and in 2019, I created an alliance with 6 other 8-man leagues across the country," he said. "I've also set up three National Championship games involving other teams in other leagues."

James has also prioritized player safety and worked to improve the league's policies and procedures around player health. "I believe we have a strong commitment to the safety of our players. Every year, we have a meeting to talk about ways to improve player safety. At one of those meetings, it was voted on to remove the crack motion," said Simerson.

Of course, his tenure has not been without its challenges. James said, "The whole Raptors debacle in 2019. I didn't feel like the Raptors should have been suspended from the league. The way the whole thing went down just didn't sit right with me especially when I got blamed for it and I had nothing to do with it."

Looking to the future, Simerson has big plans for GEFA. I asked Simerson what initiatives has he implemented to help grow the league? "The expansion portal," he exclaimed. "The expansion portal helps new teams be in contact with our expansion directors for almost an entire year to groom and mentor new owners in this league before they are allowed to present before the owners."

Simerson offered some advice to those interested in getting involved with GEFA. "Only do it if you have the time to commit. If you are going to half ass it, then don't. The league deserves better than that." he said. I asked him what he had planned for the future of the GEFA. “Players signing autographs for young fans. Fans showing up to games and having a great time. Players getting the recognition they deserve. Teams being stable."

With the possibility looming, that he moves on to new endeavors, Simerson would leave behind a legacy that will continue to inspire and motivate those involved with GEFA for years to come.