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Monday, 08 July 2019 23:16

Raider Youth Football Association aiming to develop future Raiders; summer workouts underway

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The Raider Youth Football Association is looking to develop local players as summer workouts are underway. The Raider Youth Football Association is looking to develop local players as summer workouts are underway. Deon Cranford — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — As the Richmond Senior High School football program prepares to get back in the swing of things following its first NCHSAA dead week, there’s another group of Raiders also getting back on the practice field.

The Raider Youth Football Association, a non-profit travel football organization that introduces area athletes to the fundamentals of the sport, aims at training and preparing them for the possibility of playing for Richmond in the coming years. 

Back for its 10th season, Errol Hood serves as RYFA’s president, and is looking to boost the program’s participation numbers.

Hood, who played cornerback for the University of North Carolina from 1997-2001, brings a strong coaching skillset and experience to the younger players of Richmond County. Known as the “Baby Raiders,” Hood’s program is a part of the North Carolina Amateur Athletic Union (NCAAU), and is designated as a “feeder program” for RSHS. 

Both of Hood’s sons, current Richmond varsity quarterback and rising junior Caleb, and rising sophomore wide receiver Kellan, went through the RYFA.

What Hood and this staff of roughly a dozen other certified coaches hope to do is develop rising athletes to meet and understand the skills and expectations required to play at the high school and collegiate levels, which is something RSHS head coach Bryan Till has expressed as a necessity in the sport’s local growth.

Hood emphasized that his program doesn’t hold tryouts, and any interested player, experienced or not, between the ages of five and 14 is encouraged to come out and participate. Practices have already begun, and will continue every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 6:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. at RSHS’ practice fields.

Operating five different age group teams, including 6U, 8U, 10U, 12U and 14U, the cost for players is $66. That initial cost includes practice and game insurance, as well as a helmet and shoulder pads. Additional gear, including cleats, gloves and other practice attire, must be provided by the player.

“Players will benefit from playing in our program because it’s a feeder program to the high school,” Hood explained. “We implement the same offensive and defensive system along with (the same) schemes.

“I started this program to help jumpstart players’ careers,” he continued. “I want to help them gain exposure and experience, and make positive strides toward becoming future Raider and collegiate football players.”

Hood has helped produce many Richmond football players since beginning his program in 2010, with several current varsity starters having come through the program. 

To help limit the players’ additional costs, Hood noted that the organization will put on several fundraisers to help them pay for their two game uniforms, which they’ll be allowed to keep after the season. He also explained that all players will be required to participate in fundraisers, or will have to pay $120 out-of-pocket for their uniforms.

“We will conduct a few fundraisers to help parents offset their cost,” Hood stated. “We rely heavily on sponsors and fundraisers to help pay for the cost of the game fields that we play on, the vans we rent, the equipment we use each year and to pay the referees.

Below is a list of important dates to remember for the Raider Youth Football Association:

Tuesdays and Thursdays: practice at RSHS practice fields from 6:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

Tuesday, July 30: first official day of football season

Thursday, Aug. 8: all paperwork due

Saturday, Aug. 17: conference jamboree at RSHS practice fields

Saturday, Aug. 24: NCAAU state jamboree (Charlotte, N.C.)

Saturday, Sept. 7 -- Saturday, Oct. 26: regular season schedule, more details to be provided


For more information, or questions pertaining to the youth program, contact Hood at (910) 331-6896.

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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