Youth football leagues get organized for season
Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 1:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 1:59 p.m.
Registration is ongoing for youth football and cheerleading programs in the Gainesville area for the 2013 season, with one program seeking to defend a national championship, while another program is seeking to field teams after being dormant in 2012.
The season will begin July 26-28 when the Gainesville JP Rattlers travel to Jacksonville to play in the Hotbed Classic featuring teams from Florida and Georgia.
“It is one of the best pre-season classics in the nation, and it will give all the teams a chance to see where they stack up against the best of the best before the season even starts,” said James Perry, president and founder of the Rattlers. “If we do well there, we will know we are going to be in the running for the national championship.”
The season will also feature the first year of The Dolphins of Gainesville on the youth football and cheerleading scene. The Dolphins will be led by local businessman Gary Calhoun, who is reviving the Dolphins after a year of dormancy. The Dolphins were founded as the Gainesville Dolphins Youth Sports Foundation Inc. in 2011 by Antonio Desue.
Another organization, the Gainesville Gladiators, are currently deciding on which league its teams will compete in this season.
Calhoun is reviving the Dolphins after the program did not field any teams last year after Desue moved to Atlanta. The registration fee is $100 for both football players and cheerleaders. He said the fee will cover mostly everything needed to participate in the program.
“We are still going to need to do some fundraising and get some sponsors to help us out,” Calhoun said Saturday at Lincoln Park, as he and others involved with the program registered players and cheerleaders.
“We are in desperate need of sponsors because the majority of our kids are from low-income homes and we are a non-profit organization, so all donations will be tax-exempt.”
Calhoun said the program will compete in the American Youth Football organization and will field teams in the 4-6, 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12 age divisions, and also in the 13-14 division if enough players register. He said football registration will be ongoing until all roster spots are filled. He said Aug. 1 will be the deadline for cheerleading registration.
Calhoun also said the Dolphins are in need of football and cheerleading coaches. The season will begin on Aug. 17 with the American Youth Football jamboree at Wrigley Fields in Citra in Marion County. Calhoun said it has not been established yet where the team will practice or play their home games. He said the Dolphins will compete in the regular season against teams from Daytona, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Ocala, Ormond Beach, Palatka and Williston.
To register and for more information, call 352-745-2901.
Kenneth “KeeKee” Johnson, president and founder of the Gladiators, said the Gladiators are still in the process of figuring out what league the team will compete in this season.
He said all of the details should be worked out within the next week. The Gladiators were founded in 2007.
For more information, call 352-682-4679.
Perry said the Rattlers, which also compete in the American Youth Football league, only have roster spots available on their 13-14 football team.
The registration fee is $175 for football and $170 for cheerleading. The Rattlers, whose 8-9 team won the AYF national championship last year, hold their practices from 6-8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Cone Park at 2841 E. University Ave. Their home games are played at Duval Elementary Fine Arts Academy.
Perry also said coaches are needed for the 13-14 team.
To register and for more information, call 352-727-0435.