Thursday, September 13, 2012
The Sertoma Club of Summerville kicked off another season of youth football last weekend.
The parking lot at the Jerry Blackwell Sports Complex was full for the better part of the day Saturday as the civic club, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, held its annual football jamboree. Several hundred players representing 36 teams converged on the complex’s football field for their first competition of the season. A total of 19 one-quarter scrimmages were held as all four of the program’s leagues were represented.
Sertoma football is a tradition that dates back more than 40 years. The Summerville Exchange Club operated the program for a few seasons prior to 1972 when the Sertoma Club of Summerville was founded and took it over.
Today teams in the Mighty Mites division (age 5-6) play six-on-six flag football while teams in the Bantum League (age 7-8), A-League (age 9-10) and B-League (age 11-13) play 11-on-11 tackle football. Mighty Mites teams are generally comprised of approximately 12 players while teams in the other divisions generally include 22 to 26 players.
The coaches and Sertoma Club members are the heart of the program. All are volunteers and many of them were introduced to the program when they donned a Sertoma uniform in their youth.
“I grew up playing in Sertoma and my youngest son also played,” recently installed Sertoma Club of Summerville President Calvin Linning Jr. said. “It really had a big influence on us. The coaches taught us how to block correctly and tackle, but they also taught us a lot of life lessons. They taught us about discipline and how to do things the right way.”
Coaches put in long hours and get evaluated annually. Only those teaching the athletic fundamentals and life skills club members expect them to are invited back the next year.
“They stressed the importance of school,” Linning said of his youth coaches. “Those lessons carried on while I was with Sertoma and when I moved on to play high school football.”
A few years ago the club expanded its football program to include teams from the upper part of Dorchester County.
“There was nothing for the kids in that area to do,” Linning said. “There were no recreational programs or intramural programs so those kids didn’t have anything to be involved with. It’s a rural area and a low socioeconomic area but it has some great people and some great kids so Sertoma was glad to reach out to them.”
He says the expansion has been a great success.
“You can see a transformation taking place with some of those kids,” he said. “We are helping them develop character and I’m proud of the caliber of kids coming out of that program. Not to mention it’s giving them a better football base and football IQ.”
Games for the program’s older divisions are played Monday through Thursday in the evenings at the Gahagan and Alston Middle School fields. Games for the Mighty Mite division are played Saturday mornings at Pinewood Preparatory School.
The non-profit organization only has about 30 active members, but between its football program and the club’s numerous charitable endeavors each year it touches thousands of lives.
Visit seenit.journalscene.com to check out a photo gallery from the 2012 Sertoma Football Jamboree.