Last weekend the Eagles of N.C. Central University traveled to Charlotte, but for the kids who play for the Durham Titans, an away game for the Eagles means O’Kelly Riddick Stadium becomes their official home.
The Durham Titans, part of the Piedmont Youth Football and Cheer League is one of the many youth programs provided by the John Avery Boys and Girls Club at 808 E. Pettigrew Street.
“It’s important for us and this community to get the word out about the many opportunities we have here for the kids,” said Arielle Williams, program director.
The Piedmont Youth Football and Cheer League is made up of ten teams that are located throughout the Piedmont area. The Piedmont Youth Football League is a part of American Youth Football Inc., a nonprofit organization established to promote the wholesome development of youth through their association with adult leaders in football.
The John Avery Boys and Girls Club is the only Boys and Girls Club in North Carolina that offers a tackle football program.
“I’ve been out here with these kids for four years, and I’ve had a ball doing it,” said Greg Greene, unit director for the program and NCCU alumnus.
Before the kids take the field, volunteers and coaches for the Titans and John Avery make sure that their players take care of their school work. John Avery supplies buses for students to bring them to the Boys and Girls Club where they get homework assistance and tutoring for the ones who need it.
“There are daily programs at the Boys and Girls Club,” said Greene. “So it’s not just football, it’s not just sports there is a whole academic thing in front of it.”
Greene who played football at NCCU is excited about giving the kids an opportunity to play in a college stadium complete with turf and all of the makings of Division I level football at such an early age.
“It’s not just for kids,” laughed Greene. “I didn’t even get to play on the turf when I played here, so to have kids as young as five play in a college stadium is awesome.”
To get a feel of their surroundings for game days the Titans also practice on the practice field located just outside of O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium Tuesday through Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30.
The Titans are separated into four divisions that place players on teams according to age. The divisions and age requirements are; Tiny Mite (7 and under), Cadet (8-10), Jr. Pee Wee (11-12) and Pee Wee (13).
All participants are required to pay a fee of $80 to join the Titans which includes all jerseys and equipment needed to be ready for game days. Also included in the fee is a year membership to the Boys and Girls Club and access to all programs provided at John Avery. If the Titans fare well in the regular season they will earn the right to play for a national championship in Orlando, Florida.
“A lot of these kids have never been off their side of Durham,” said Greene. “So to do this for them on this turf field is good enough, but getting them to Florida to play for a national championship would be off the scales, and that’s our goal.”