By Terry Harris
Surry Youth Sports (SYS), affiliates of the Peninsula Youth Football Cheer Organization (PYFCO), brought their inaugural season to a close with honors on November 12. The Surry teams not only accomplished runner-up spots in the league Superbowl, but they also scored several MVP picks.
Recently members of the Group’s Board of Directors shared the story of the fledgling group, beginning with their brief but impressive history.
In spite of being told by PYFCO President Jay Stephens, after an initial April town hall meeting to discuss the local project with parents, that the timeframe to have the teams in place would require 15-18 months, President Shernard C. Newby said, “With the Lord's help, parents, sponsors, donors support, dedication and hard work it was accomplished in 94 days.”
The enthusiastic members of the SYS Board, which includes Newby, VP Wilhelm John, Treasurer Sheila Johnson, and Coach Alan Gurganus as well as Football Commissioner Obryant Beaufort and Cheerleader Commissioner Jasmine Shaw, all were quick to insist that this story is not about the leaders, it’s about the youth - the young athletes aged 5 – 12 who played from Surry County this year.
“Our Youth Athletes had not played football before,” explained Newby. “They knew the game by watching others play, but had never experienced playing themselves. Therefore, they started from the beginning, learning the basics and the fundamentals of the game.”
“We know winning games is good,” he continued. “However, the coaching staff is teaching them how to play the game with integrity and respect - not just tackling players.”
“Winning is not the object of the organization,” added Johnson, who, in addition to being treasurer of the organization, is the proud aunt of four of the first-year youth involved. “Rather it is to help athletes Increase self-esteem - become team players, develop discipline, and to learn the fundamentals of the game of football - not just winning.”
One of the first challenges facing the Surry organization was that they had no helmets, shoulder pads, pom poms, practice equipment, uniforms or funds. But when the determined group sent letters to businesses, family members, and churches asking for assistance for the program, the donations came in and the organization soon was ready to begin purchasing equipment.
The next hurdle was that due to the national shortage of the needed equipment, actually acquiring it was a real challenge. So Shernard and Coach Alan Gurganus traveled the US to meet with companies to get equipment. They were successful, and consequently over 100 young male and female athletes participated in the SYS inaugural season.
This year’s teams consisted of Six and Under (ages 5-6), Eight and Under (ages 7-8), Ten and Under (ages 9-10), and Twelve and Under (ages 11-12.) Newby said that for the upcoming season a new Fourteen and Under (13-14) will be added.
As those 100 athletes played PYFCO football teams from Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Suffolk, Smithfield, Gloucester, York and Poquoson from August to November, local supporters were able to see their home games for the season played at the Surry Parks and Recreation field in Surry, VA.
The stated purpose of the program in Surry County includes, in part, “helping the young athletes become great leaders, build teamwork, discipline, be great sons and daughters, be great students, learn how to make sound decisions, be respectful, love themselves, meet other youth athletes, and have confidence” as they learn the fundamentals of the game of football.
When asked about her take on this first season for the local organization, Johnson said, ”I’m very excited and enthusiastic about it. The kids enjoyed meeting and being with other youth, cheering and playing football and growing into becoming productive citizens. To see the smiles on their faces on Saturday morning when it was time to play and even when it was time to practice has been a real joy. And it’s going so well because they’re 100 percent dedicated to it.”
Most Valuable Player (MVP) Super Bowl titles for Surry Teams:
6 and Under (6U)- Kruz Price : Offensive MVP, Bella Winfield : Defensive MVP
8 and Under (8U) - Ky’Mani Shaw: Offensive MVP, Shermar C. Newby: Defensive MVP
10 and Under (10U) - Aaron Savage: Offensive MVP, Jonelle Carter: Defensive MVP
12 and Under (12U) - Amir Beaufort: Offensive MVP, Isaiah Shaw: Defensive MVP
Most Spirited and Best Techniques:
Tiara Bridges, Layla Boole, Kennedi Lyttle, Sophia Adams, Olivia Hardy, Lyric Coleman, Ayari Shaw, Taliyah Kindred