After a successful first season for the Asheboro Raiders, the young football players are now in the middle of workouts for the fall season at the Eastside Community Center on Brewer Street, and staff are looking at all the new ways they can grow the program.
Registration is open for their four current football teams and the cheer team. They are open to children between the ages of 5 and 13. The official last day of registration is July 31, the first day of practice.
"But of course, if a child wants to join after that, we will take that child," Athletic Director Maurice Peoples Sr. said.
The first game will be scheduled close to the beginning of the school year.
Peoples said they have children graduating out of the 12U team who want to come back, after their victory in the United Youth Football League's Holiday Bowl in December. "We actually went to Virginia and won it all," he said.
He is working on forming a 13U team, which he expects to coach alongside Raiders President Tavin McNair.
Last year, the 10U team qualified for the United Youth Football championship in Florida. The children showed off their skill on television and for a live crowd in the tens of thousands.
"The Florida trip was unreal. We had a blast," Peoples said. "Just being there, knowing that we just expanded our organization."
"We do want to take more teams to Florida," says LaTonya Godwin, Raiders secretary and Team Mom. "Give the kids that experience, but also be able to compete at the competition."
The cheer squad placed third in the Central Carolina Youth Athletic League showcase in Reidsville. That competition will be in Asheboro this year. Director Jacqua Purcell is grateful for a chance to build the cheerleaders up not only athletically, but on a personal level.
"When I speak to a lot of these girls, they love to see that we care," Purcell said. "You don't know what a lot of kids go through. You don't know what they're going through at home. But for kids to know somebody cares, that makes a difference."
Raiders players also receive regular tutoring and study halls alongside their workouts. "The kids know right now we're in EOG time," Godwin said. "It's important that they get that and know that they can't really go anywhere without the education first."
McNair says it's about more than the game of football. "My reason for this is to save the kids' lives. We save one kid's life, we win the game."
"They know that here, they can have a safe community," Godwin said. "There's nothing to be worried about. If they need something, we're there for them. All they have to do is ask."
Whatever this season brings, they'll say they'll embrace every opportunity to grow.
"We'd like to do other sports," Godwin said. "Basketball as well. Soccer, football, cheering, if we could get gymnastics, that would be great. Just to give them something that's different. We're wanting to expand this as much as we can."
"We want to have the biggest program in Randolph County," Peoples said. "To take kids out of the city, out of the state, to see the game, that actually excites us."
Registration is open on the Raiders website, raiderssa.com.