ROCKINGHAM — If you ever hear about a local sports team that goes by the name “Warriors,” don’t think basketball.
Don’t think Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.
Think John Carter, Jose Colon, Chris Covington and Gary Loving.
Those are just four of the guys who are at the forefront of a new AAU football program by the name of the Richmond Warriors — a team that operates under the wing of the nonprofit, 501(c) organization 3D Youth.
Covington, a former running back at Richmond Senior, will serve as the team’s head coach.
“The main thing with the program is, we want to provide a program for the kids where they can learn and play ball, but have it at a price where it’s affordable,” Carter said.
There are three different age groups — under-8, under-10, under-12 — and the price point is $70 per player, which covers uniform, insurance and travel expenses. The only thing that coaches expect players to bring are their own cleats.
Practices are held Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at Rohanen Middle School from 6-8 p.m.
“We’ve been practicing for the past two months and probably got about 55 boys right now,” Carter added. “It’s still not too late for more guys to come. We encourage any players from 7 to 13, depending on their birthday, to come out there and play.”
The Warriors have not found a home field yet, but are exploring their options and hope to have a decision soon — as the first game is set to take place Saturday, Sept. 3. They are also looking for young girls, ages 7 to 13, who are interested in cheering for the football team.
Richmond Senior’s head football coach Mike Castellano has developed a relationship with the program, as the Warriors are looking to be taken under the wing of the high school’s football team, and has already donated equipment and a playbook.
“It’s exciting to have a youth league in Richmond County,” Castellano said. “Young guys are learning life lessons through the love of football and how to properly play it. I’m excited about the Richmond Warriors.”
Along with the football team, 3D Youth offers a mentoring program for the players once the season is over. The organization hopes that with the mentor program, it will be able to bring back the same guys — and more — in order to prepare them for the world that does not require helmets and football pads.
Carter says he desires to build a bond with and gain the trust of the young men that are interested in joining the Warriors. As a businessman himself, Carter — owner of Big Dad-Ez in Rockingham — says he plans on bringing in different business owners, traveling to different cities, teaching the guys about finances, how to save, how to manage a check book, etc.
“Just things that it takes to be a man, besides things you see on TV and hear in rap music,” he explained. “The main thing is to give back to the community. A lot of times with our youth, you try to tell them things and if they don’t know you or have a bond with you, they’re not going to listen.
“But I figured, if you give a kid from 7 to 13 a good foundation of positive stuff and the right thing to do, by the time they get to those ages when its time to make decisions on what is going to go on in your life…they can always fall back on that foundation.”
3D Youth is hosting a plate sale Saturday at Big Dad-Ez beginning at 9 a.m.
“It’s (called) 3D, because we’re transparent. You can see all the way around us,” Carter said. “3D Youth is the umbrella of everything that we’re doing, but right now we’re focusing on the Richmond Warriors.
“It’s not for a profit. Everything we do is for the kids.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.