• 55°

Salisbury 49ers football team aims to get kids off the streets early

 

SALISBURY — When she talks about watching her son play for the Salisbury 49ers, Devora Neely grins with pride.

“(Jaylen) is No. 5 on the 10-year-old team. Running back,” she said, smiling. “You will see me running down the field. I’m on the sideline; I’m running down the field when he runs.”

Neely said the Salisbury 49ers, a nonprofit youth football league that just started its eighth season, is run entirely by volunteers like her. As a team mom, Neely spends nearly two hours a day handling players’ paperwork, communicating with parents and attending practices.

“It’s like a second job,” she said.

Neely and her son, Jaylen, are not the only ones in their family involved with the program. Neely’s husband, Keith Neely, has been the team’s treasurer for the past two years and their daughter, Jada, is on the 49ers cheerleading team.

“Honestly, I think that what they do with these kids is amazing. I really honestly do,” said Keith Neely. “My kid has been out here for five years now, he’s been playing with this organization.”

Many of the 49ers volunteers are parents, including the coaches. One of those coaches, Brian Alford, has all three of his sons in the program.

Alford said that although he thinks he and his wife provide a good home life for their kids, he knows that not every kid on the field is in the same situation.

“ … You see why we do it. It’s the kids,” Alford said. “And it’s the purpose of getting these kids early. Even if they go home and see stuff that we hope they don’t see, (we hope) that they’ll still hear our voices in their heads at nighttime saying, ‘Hey, don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t do this.’”

Alford said that having positive role models for young men in the community has always been important. But he said it’s especially important now.

“I mean, we all know that Salisbury has a bad rap right now for the violence, and the more we do this, the more we’re hoping that with the positive role models out here, with the coaches that hopefully we can instill something in them to make them realize, ‘Hey, there is another way to do things,’” Alford said.

Brian Miller is president and head coach of the football team. He said he’s been involved with it since the program involved just a few police officers and residents working together in East Spencer.

“When we first started, we only had two teams. We had a 6- to 8-year-olds team and 9- to 11-year-olds team. But now we’ve got four teams, trying to get five,” Miller said.

Those teams cover kids ages 5 to 14, both for the football program and the cheerleading program.

“We try to create good young men, good student athletes in the community,” Miller said. “And, if one thing, that we know for two hours Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, that they are over here practicing in a safe environment.”

Registration for the Salisbury 49ers football and cheerleading teams is still open. The football team practices Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m at the field behind Hall Gym. The cheerleading team practices Tuesday and Thursday at the same time and place.

Children can technically register until the end of September, but the teams’ first games will likely be on the first Saturday in September.

The registration fee is $75 for the season. But Devora Neely said the team holds fundraisers and accepts sponsorships in order to offset the cost, should a family not be able to afford the fee.

“We’re trying to do whatever we can to make sure that every kid can play and that money isn’t an issue,” she said. “And if anybody is interested in sponsoring a kid, we would definitely appreciate that.”

Anyone interested in sponsoring a child should contact Devora or Keith Neely at salisbury49ers.nc@gmail.com.

Keith and Miller said donations to the program are always appreciated.

As of now, Miller said the biggest challenge is making sure that the nearly 100 children currently signed up for the league can make it to practice.

“A lot of kids I see want to play but they don’t have transportation here. And that’s our biggest challenge. A lot of our coaches, they go and pick up the kids and you’ll see coaches coming in with seven or eight kids in a van,” said Miller.

The league’s main sponsor is the Salisbury Police Department. Salisbury Parks and Recreation allows the league to use Hall Gym to store equipment.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

Comments

Local

Dukeville lead testing results trickle in, more participation needed

Education

Faith Academy interviewing staff, preparing site for fall opening

News

Volunteers work around obstacles, alter procedures to offer free tax services to those in need

Education

Education shoutouts

Local

Retired Marine gets recognition for toy collection efforts

Local

March issue of Salisbury the Magazine is now available

Education

Five get Dunbar School Heritage Scholarships

Education

Education briefs: Salisbury Academy fourth-graders think big as inventors

Education

Bakari Sellers keynote speaker at Livingstone College Founder’s Day program

Nation/World

Biden aims to distribute masks to millions in ‘equity’ push

Nation/World

Chief: Capitol Police were warned of violence before riot

Nation/World

GOP rallies solidly against Democrats’ virus relief package

Nation/World

FDA says single-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson prevents severe COVID

High School

Coaches, lawmakers react to governor’s order expanding sporting event capacity

Coronavirus

Three new COVID-19 deaths, positives remain below triple digits

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper announces end to curfew, changes to restrictions affecting bars, high school sports

Crime

Blotter: Two charged after call about package

Crime

Salisbury Police investigating two shootings

Crime

Chase involving Kernersville man ends in woods behind Carson High School

News Main

North Rowan girls end season with playoff loss to Murphy

Education

Rowan-Salisbury EC department plunges in place after raising $1,300 for Special Olympics

Nation/World

Tiger Woods injured in car crash, has surgery on legs

Local

Local stakeholders set goals, direction to tackle city’s housing issues

Education

RSS board talks future of Henderson Independent School