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Police Athletic League



SPF PAL contact football is for Scotch Plains and Fanwood players in grades 3-8. The 3rd grade contact team plays locally while the rest travel. Register your child for the grade he is entering in September. Note the maximum ages below for each grade as of September 1: 
Grade 3: Maximum age 9.5 years old  
Grade 4: Maximum age 10.5 years old 
Grade 5: Maximum age 11.5 years old 
Grade 6: Maximum age 12.5 years old 
Grade 7: Maximum age 13.5 years old 
Grade 8: Maximum age 14.5 years old 

If your child is over the maximum age on September 1, he will be eligible to play in the next grade. 

SPF PAL flag football is for Scotch Plains and Fanwood players in grades K-8. Games are played every Sunday at the SPF High School lower grass fields and on the varsity football turf field when the PAL contact football teams are playing away games. Game times are and 12:15pm and 1:30pm. The season starts Sept. 11 and runs eight weeks to Oct. 30. Practice is usually held 30 minutes before each game so no worries about weekday/weeknight practices.  All families will be alerted soon on what teams their children are on. We appreciate your patience and welcome newcomers! 

Fees: Flag, $75. Contact 3rd grade, $130. All other contact grades, $180. After the first two players, additional family members in contact football play free. Any other special arrangements must first be approved by SPF PAL.

For additional questions, send an email to [email protected]


SPF PAL cheerleading is open to residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood going into grades 3-8 in September. Please make sure you are registering your child for the correct grade, that's the grade the child will enter in September.

Fee for 3rd grade (Mini Raiders) is $75. Fee for grades 4-8 is $125. We are accepting 30 registrants for each grade. Additional registrants will be put on a waiting list. There is no guarantee wait listed people will be selected.

All participants must read our Rules and Expectations and agree to abide by them.

For additional questions, send an email to [email protected]

The basketball season starts in the fall with open registration and tryouts and play continues through the winter into March. 

For additional questions, send an email to [email protected]

Softball is played in the spring, summer and fall. Players must try out in the spring and are accepted based on their skill level. Summer and fall teams are assembled based on experience and are invited by the coaches.

For additional questions, send an email to [email protected]

Volleyball has a short season in the fall. Tryouts are usually the week of Labor Day. Players are informed whether they have made the team. Those who do are then instructed to register at this site.

For additional questions, send an email to [email protected]

SPF PAL President Profile


(Reprinted from by John Mooney)

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- As head of the local SPF Police Athletic League (PAL) and as Juvenile Detective for the Scotch Plains police, Shawn Johnson spends much of his time dealing with teenagers. He views his role as a police officer as an opportunity to help young people out of bad situations.


"We try to rehabilitate, rather than punish," Johnson said in a sit-down interview with TAPintoSPF. "Kids are kids, and they make mistakes. I believe in giving them an opportunity to learn from their mistakes."

Johnson said he cherishes the moments when a juvenile offender walks in with a "tough, 'I don't care' attitude" and leaves remorseful and committed to not making the same mistake again. Johnson says he deals with three types of parents: cooperative parents, ones that say, 'Not my kid,' and parents who say, 'I need help.' 

The detective maintains that while Scotch Plains-Fanwood has its issues like every other town does, our community is fortunate not to have to deal with some of the elements (gangs and widespread drug use) that other towns have.  

"We have simpler things: fights and underage drinking," Johnson explains. "The schools play a big role; students talk, teachers and administrators hear things. We know who to keep an eye on. Sometimes parents will tip us off about a particular kid."

Although drug use is not rampant, Johnson warns that parents should be pro active about where their children go, who they hang out with, and to be on the outlook for changes in behavior. 

"Monitor injuries, especially with athletes. What the doctors prescribe after an athlete has an injury can be a gateway to drug abuse," explained Johnson, who began with SPPD in 1998 and joined the Juvenile Division in 2005. "A more widespread problem is house parties. Older teens like to drink."


Johnson is president of the SPF PAL, which oversees football, flag football and cheerleading in the fall, basketball in the winter, and volleyball and softball during the spring and summer. For many years, the PAL ran the local wrestling program, which now has moved under the Scotch Plains Recreation Department due to a difference in coaching philosophy.

"All of our sports coaches are volunteers. Wrestling wanted to look at paid coaches, and has moved over to Rec," Johnson explained. "There's no animosity. They're all our kids."

Johnson coaches the 8th grade youth football team, which defeated Cranford last Sunday at home. The squad includes a number of 7th graders who are playing up because there were not enough to field a team.

"Parents have concerns about concussions and injuries, but the percentage of serious injuries is low. As coaches, we are doing our due diligence to teach proper techniques of bringing an opponent down: low to tackle, head out of the way," Johnson explained. "No one wants to see anyone get hurt. We want the sport to be popular. I'm an advocate and will do whatever I can to promote it."

The PAL has focused on developing a flag football program that is growing in popularity. 

"For kids whose parents who were reluctant to have them engage in contact, flag football is a way to keep them engaged in the sport," said Johnson, who has a 9-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son. "We are looking at expanding the program next year."

Johnson defines success as seeing smiles on the kids' faces and laugher after the games. 

"We want to win games, but we want the kids to have fun," he said. "We want them to remember their experience as a happy time with as much enjoyment as possible."

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