By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: September 23, 2019 | 3:45 p.m.
WAVERLY – Jason and Rhonda Flowers are proud of the town of Waverly and the three capable, successful children they’ve raised there. Now they are on a mission to help other kids – through football. This year, that goal led to a tough decision.
“There’s always been a need here for something for kids to do to keep them off the streets, so in 2007 we started the GreenMachine Football Team to address that,” explained Coach Flowers. “When we started, we didn’t have one piece of equipment, not even a jersey. But the Lord said, ‘Go do this work and I’ll make a way,’ and Michael Kearns who was with Waste Management at the time, put up the first seed money.”
“And for several years the team did really well,” he continued, “but in 2016 an out of town job took away my coaching time, and for two years, there was no GreenMachine. Then one day a gentleman at a gas pump said to me, ‘Kids in Waverly are spray painting roads, breaking into houses, and you got to do something.’ So we started it back up. The need in the community was just too great.”
The problem was that the need truly was just too great.
“We had 90 kids who wanted to play!” Coach Flowers said. “That would mean three different age-group teams, plus it takes about $200 to outfit one kid. So we had to make a decision. We knew that 11 – 14-year-olds, middle school age, was the group most likely to get in trouble. So now we’ve got 30 kids in that age group who, instead of being tempted to be in the street in the summer, they’ve been in practices – twice a day.”
And last week, with Jason as head coach and Rhonda as administrator, they got their team weighed in and ready to start the season. And both say that it’s in large part due to some pretty amazing local sponsors.
“Oh, man, it’s very encouraging – to have Angela (McPhaul, Waverly Mayor) as a major influence about starting the program back up,” Flowers said. “She’s an advocate for anything done for youth. She and her husband have personally taken a stand as major contributors – not taxpayer funds. We really appreciate that. And we started on the season with a lot of equipment that was old and out of certification. My wife got busy knocking on doors, and another very special sponsor – Terri Pittman of Smithfield Foods – just asked, ‘What do you need for new uniforms? You’ll have a check next week.”
“There are good people in this town,” Rhonda said. “It’s all about being positive. Being able to work together for the sake of the community as well as the children. That’s how you get a lot done.”
They say that’s how they also have been blessed with some more great sponsors, like Parhams Welding, Jessica Ann Moore Foundation, Paulette Nowell at Sussex Elementary School, The Improvement Association and the Colonial Heights Wal-Mart Super Center.
Now the Flowers have one more big item on their wishlist.
“The team has never had a field of their own,” Coach Flowers explained. “We’ve been practicing at the Jessica Ann Moore Foundation in Waverly, and we’ve won several championships, but home town people don’t get a chance to see us. So we’re asking the community to help us put some soil in places, get light poles moved around – things like that – to get our field ready so we can have games here in Waverly.”
“We have three kids of our own,” Flowers continued. “A son majoring in sports training at Norfolk State, a daughter majoring in sports management at ODU, and a daughter who is co-captain of the majorette team for the Sussex Central High School Band who will be heading to VCU for dentistry. My kids are doing pretty good. But I want all kids to be successful. We have to do something. We can’t just talk. We can’t just chastise kids. We gotta work. My team knows if they get in trouble at school, the teacher gets their jersey all week – and decides when they get it back. I don’t control whether they play or not – they do – through how they act. We’re trying to instill pride in our community. To teach them to be more accountable. To keep the town clean and be respectful. Probably 80 percent of the team are honor roll students.”
“We talk to them,” he added. “And every time we talk to them, the last words out of our mouth are ‘I love you.’ Some of these kids probably don’t hear that much. And we always say, ‘Don’t hold your talent hostage. If you have ability and talent, if you’re not using it, you’re holding it hostage.’”
To find out ways to help with the GreenMachine’s team, home field, or expansion teams, write to email@example.com or call 804-641-2028.