Putting In the Work: Sandhills Patriots Continue Field Revitalization
The Sandhills Patriots field some of the best teams in the Piedmont Youth Football League, thanks to teamwork, dedication and attention to detail.
Now they have one of the best fields, thanks to the same reasons.
On a warm Saturday in late June, about 60 players, coaches and parents participated in a team workday at the Patriots’ home field behind Southern Pines Elementary School.
“We are doing everything from top-dressing the field to putting in plants around the perimeter, building walkways and securing the banks (around the field) that had some erosion,” said Danny Burns, an adult volunteer. “Last summer, this field was a goat track. There were sandspurs, holes and divots everywhere. What we are doing today is improving on what we did last year.”
Last summer, parents, community volunteers and players, organized by Tom Van Camp, helped revitalize the field. They resodded it, installed goal posts, put up bleachers and even rewired and repaired the old scoreboard.
The Patriots were formed two years ago as a travel team of 11- and 12-year-olds from the area Optimist Club. The goal was to expose local athletes to different players, teams and styles of play while focusing on teamwork and basic football skills.
That team won a tournament in Charlotte and earned an invitation to play in the PYFL in 2009. The success of the team and the interest in the community allowed the Patriots to form three teams to compete for the 2009 season.
Combined, the Prep team (ages 7-9), Jayvee (10-11) and Varsity (12-13) teams finished a combined 22-2 last year, and the teams are unbeaten on their home field.
Last year, all three teams played in the PYFL championship games for their age groups. The Jayvee team claimed the championship in the 11-under age group, the Prep team defeated a team from Maryland to win the championship in the 9-under division, and the varsity finished as runner-up after winning the tournament in 2008.
When the teams joined the PYFL for the 2009 season, they needed a home field. The field behind Southern Pines Elementary was originally rented by the Optimist Club of the Sandhills. Van Camp and those with the Sandhills Patriots and the school worked out an agreement to refurbish the field for the benefit of the programs, the school and the community.
Renovations began soon after an agreement was reached. Since then, parents and players along with community volunteers have spent countless hours renovating the field. Last year’s major work included leveling the ground and installing new turf.
Parent Lori Pry says the hard work by all the volunteers has been a great contribution.
“It is great to see all the progress,” she said. “It’s a little football field of dreams.”
Said Burns, “The success we have on the field is directly related to the hard work we’ve put in out here.”
The players agree.
“Our motivation is to make the field look like our record,” said Jaylen Taylor, a player on the varsity team.
Taylor’s varsity teammate Joe Lewis added, “It’s all about the dedication that we put in.”
The Patriots will begin their season in the fall. To learn more about the Sandhills Patriots, visit their website at sandhillspatriots.com.
Contact Tom Embrey by e-mail at email@example.com
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