By Josh LaBella
Sports have always played an integral part of Mike Madera’s life. From running the Westie Blue website to being the former president of the Walter Camp Football foundation, Madera said sports play an active role in building a strong community.
Madera, who works at Yale, said he has lived in West Haven for 43 years. He said he “ate and drank sports” when he was younger and still talks to the friends he made back then. According to Madera, with all the options the youth of the United States have when deciding how to spend their time, it’s important they understand the difference sports can make in their lives.
“I just think that, today, with all the video games and their phones and all the options that these kids have,” said Madera, “they don’t play the sports like I did 30 or 40 years ago. Unfortunately, you don’t see kids playing baseball, or hockey or football in their backyard – you just don’t see a lot of it.”
Madera said he started the Westie Blue website eight years ago. He writes, edits, and posts the stories himself and said the sole purpose he had in creating it was to shine a spotlight on the young athletes of West Haven.
“The reason I did that was because I was getting the feeling that these kids who play high school sports weren’t getting enough recognition,” said Madera. “This website is to gives those kids positive recognition so when they look back 20 years from now they can read about all the great things they did in high school.”
Whether a reserve player or a star player, Madera said they can find stories on the positive things they have done on the website.
A few weeks ago, Madera finished his term as president of the Walter Camp Football Foundation. The national organization oversees selection by the Football Bowl Subdivision coaches of the oldest All-American football team.
They also give out awards to college players who they feel have distinguished themselves and make donations to charities and youth-oriented organizations. Madera said the group is about much more than just football.
“The Walter Camp Football Foundation is more than about just college football. It is an all-volunteer organization which contributes to other organizations near and far,” said Madera. “We are very involved nationally and locally, supporting Special Olympics and various charities, as well as working within the community at various events.”
Madera said he is proud to say he has been a contributing member for close to 25 years and when he looks back, being President and leading such a prestigious Foundation will go down as one of the proudest things he has done.
Madera said the WCFF hosts fundraisers in order to donate to charities and youth groups as well as make visits to youth hospitals with players, mascots and cheerleaders. He said activities such as that are just some of the important work they do.
“When you can put a smile on someone’s face who may be going through the fight of their life,” said Madera, “it just verifies what you are doing is right.”
Madera said he feels giving back is both important and the right thing to do.
“I feel it is important for my kids to see,” said Madera. “There is nothing wrong with seeing hard work and the rewards which come with it.”