NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – While talented teenagers from the Cape Fear area prepare for another round in high school playoffs, some coaches in New Hanover County want to remind everyone where some of those football players first put on their pads.
Nine organizations make up the Coastal Pop Warner football league, which includes 42 football teams and 27 cheer squads. More than 1400 participants cover the tri-county area of Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover. Most of the teams are based in New Hanover, but Bengals head coach Thomas Davis said the first round of playoffs were moved to Pender. Joyce Keith, spokesperson for Pender County Schools, said there is no initial charge for youth sports on athletic facilities. Extra fees for necessary custodial work could be included, along with $50 per hour to turn on lights if necessary.
Davis said he appreciates the welcome by Pender, but would have liked to see the teams traveling from out of town for the tournament stay in New Hanover.
"This county should find a way for these games to be played here," he said. "That's revenue from hotels, food and things of that sort."
New Hanover County Schools charges non-profits $100 per hour to rent high school football fields, which include the cost of lights. Davis said he has no problem paying fees, but he would expect some leniency for the future students and players of nearby schools.
"They're going to be feeding these schools in four or five years," said Davis. "To tell them that I can't get you out there because of money, I don't feel comfortable saying that to my kids."
The team holds fundraisers like any other youth activity. Players and parents collected nearly $500 Monday night, according to Davis. With another playoff game in Durham this weekend, the head coach said the money raised should be spent on traveling to games, not renting a field to practice for them. His coaching staff hopes for an open football field for public use one day.
"It's going to take the community, the county, whoever to really focus on these players," said Bengals' Assistant Coach Anthony Tucker.
The willingness to work is there, according to Davis. The $750 required to rent Legion Stadium for a day was waived for the team, because they only used the field for a 20 minute field trip. The coach said it was important for players to feel a turf field before playing on one in Durham.
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