Joe Rafter, President and Chairman of the Board
Joe has 21+ years as a football player, coach, and administrator from youth to the college level. Joe is passionate about the developmental opportunities for all those involved with youth sports, especially tackle football.
Joe played 9 years of football from grade school through college, and has coached at the high school and youth level for 12+ years. He had led multiple youth football organizations on the East and West Coasts of the U.S.
Joe is a co-founder of CAYFA with Ron White and Steve Famiano. He lives in Larkspur, CA with his wife and three sons.
Steve Famiano, EVP, Community Development
Steve brings almost two decades of youth football volunteerism as a Coach, League and Conference Administrator in working to develop not only football players but great leaders in his local community of Apple Valley, Ca.
As EVP, Community Development, Steve will continue to bring his media and local experience to other football communities across the great State of California.
Steve is a co-founder of CAYFA with Joe Rafter, and Ron White. He lives in Apple Valley, CA with his wife and two bull dogs.
Ron White, EVP, Standards & Practices
Ron has been a member of the youth tackle football community for 30+ years serving as board member, youth football task force member, community sports advocate, and currently as Executive Director of a youth football program in Central California. Additionally, Ron has coached football and served as a mentor at the youth, high school, and Junior College level.
With a background in league administration and a focus on player and product safety development, it is Ron's mission to ensure the sport of youth tackle football and all those it serves continues to safely grow and thrive for generations to come.
Ron is a co-founder of CAYFA with Steve Famiano and Joe Rafter. He lives in Bakersfield, CA with his wife and son.
Former NFL Running Back, Best-Selling Author, and Motivational Speaker.
In 2018, with the national discussion on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) at its peak, Merril released Brainwashed: The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football. He collaborated on the project with board-certified forensic neuropathologist, Dr. Peter Cummings, to take an unbiased look at the facts surrounding this misunderstood pattern. Together, they conducted a provocative examination of the science, as well as the hysteria around CTE and how it is being manipulated to serve an agenda.
CTE: Common-Sense Advocacy
In the years since his career-ending head trauma, Merril has championed concussion research, resisted the hysteria surrounding the disease, and become an informed advocate in the prevention and treatment of brain injuries.
2009: Testified at a congressional hearing on football head injuries, challenging legislators to institute a head-trauma protocol for players ages 8-18
2010: Appointed in 2010 to the NFL MTBI Committee, which initiates research and advises the NFL on best practices for concussion prevention and management
2010: Named to the board of directors for USA Football, the sport’s national governing body on youth and amateur levels
2011: Invited by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to serve on the NFL’s Return-to-Play Subcommittee which deals with head, neck, and spine cases
2011: Met with senior officials at the Pentagon to discuss the military’s tough-guy culture and instilling the benefits of leaders suffering a concussive head injury to voluntarily remove themselves from a situation as the best course of action for the troops under their command
2011: Participated in the NFL-USO Tour to Afghanistan with Matt Millen and Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, visiting troops overseas
2012: Helped launch Heads-up Football with USA Football
2014: Became an active part of the USA Football Advisory Committee
Merril’s first book, Find a Way: Three Words That Changed My Life, was released in 2010. It is a moving memoir in which he shares the simple philosophy that guides him to this day and has enabled him to overcome obstacles throughout his life.
Dr. Peter Cummings
Dr. Cummings is board certified in anatomic pathology, neuropathology and forensic pathology. He earned his medical degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland and completed his pathology training at the University of Virginia. He also earned a Masters degree in pathology from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and a B.A. from the University of Maine. Formally, Dr. Cummings worked as a medical examiner at the Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. He was a member of the SwissAir Flight 111 identification team in 1998 and during the summer of 2002, worked on identification process of those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.
He recently contributed to “Brainwashed; The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football” written by former NFL player Merril Hoge (2018). Dr. Cummings current research focuses on pediatric head injury, particularly concussions. In 2018, the Cummings Neuropathology Lab was the first group to describe tau accumulations in woodpeckers.
Dr. Cummings is the author of two internationally acclaimed textbooks "Atlas of Forensic Histopathology" and "Pearls and Pitfalls in Forensic Pathology: of Infant and Child Death Investigation" both published by Cambridge University Press. Dr. Cummings has also authored two fiction novels "The Neuropathology of Zombies" and "The Seven Stars", both published by Macabre Maine.
Chris Fore is a veteran Athletic Director, Football Coach and Teacher from Southern California. Currently, he is an Assistant Principal, and also teaches as an Adjunct Professor at Azusa Pacific University in their Masters of Physical Education program. Fore also serves as the President of the California Coaches Association.
Fore coached high school football for sixteen years (eight as a Head Varsity Coach), and Junior College football for one. His education includes: a Master’s degree in Coaching and Athletic Administration, a California Administrative Services Credential, a California Teaching Education Specialist Credential, and a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies. He has earned the Certified Athletic Administrator distinction from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. He has served on the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Football Coach’s Advisory Committee, and as a board member for the Southern California Football Coaches Association.
Fore writes a weekly column called “Coaches Corner” for Max Preps, America’s #1 source for high school sports. He has published three books: Building Championship Caliber Football Programs, Shield Punt and An Insider’s Guide To Scoring Your Next Coaching Job.
Because of his strong background, training and experience in high school athletics, and specifically football, Coach Fore has been called as an expert witness in several different lawsuits regarding concussions, equipment, protocols and athletic eligibility.