COVID-19 putting financial strain on community football program

Sports

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Around this time of year, the Gate City Hornets football and cheer program would be beginning their summer programs.

Around 100 or so 5- to 14-year-olds would be crowding the gridiron at various sites in Greensboro to run through football drills, while 50 young cheerleaders would be practicing their chants for the upcoming games.

However, this year that’s not the case.

The Gate City Hornets have had to postpone the start of the season due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in city.

“It’s still out there. I don’t want to get none of the kids sick, it’s too risky,” Hornet President Darryl Ramsey said.

As the start of the summer season neared, he and the board for the organization came up with various sanitation and safety plans for how to practice with no contact.

“We were going to have a sanitation tent, and we were going to have the kids spread out by 10 feet … have them separated at various spots with coaches going through drills,” Ramsey said. “Every 15 to 30 minutes we will have them come and sanitize themselves.”

He also explained how they were not going to engage in physical contact until state health officials gave them the go-ahead.

But, as numbers in Guilford County and Greensboro continue to grow, the organization decided to hold off until things improved.

“We just want to make sure it’s safe for all of the kids,” he said.

In the place of in-person group workouts, coaches have been challenging their players who have already signed up to get into a workout routine.

They have also been keeping in close contact with those players who rely heavily on the structure football brings.

Ramsey said, “a lot of these kids don’t have fathers. A lot of kids, there’s only one parent in the house. They need structure, and my coaches give them the structure they need.”

The organization is also taking a hit financially, like many of the teams in the league.

As a way to alleviate stress on players and parents, the Gate City Hornets have allowed players to sign up for free this upcoming season. On top of losing that source of income, they have seen a significant drop in sponsors for the upcoming season.

“If we advance, we probably won’t be able to advance, because we don’t have money. Business didn’t make [any] money, so we try our best to do what we can,” he said.

With a lack of sponsors, the team may not be able to attend the various tournaments or compete at the level that they did last year. They also may not be able to get new equipment, leading to fewer spots on the roster for new players.

“We need donations, anything will help … regardless of winning trophies, we’re in it for the kids,” Ramsey said.

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