Jeffery Lee stops Jaquis Ricks in his tracks -- MURRAY THOMPSON | TIDEWATER NEWS
Jeffery Lee stops Jaquis Ricks in his tracks -- MURRAY THOMPSON | TIDEWATER NEWS

Archived Story

Southampton Middle School starts football program

Published 11:14am Friday, May 23, 2014

COURTLAND—It was mainly about letting the children have fun, but Southampton High School Head Football Coach Willie Gillus said there were two other important factors for starting a football program at the middle school.

Zavion Whitehead gets hydrated by Coach Nickolas. -- MURRAY THOMPSON | TIDEWATER NEWS
Zavion Whitehead gets hydrated by Coach Nickolas. — MURRAY THOMPSON | TIDEWATER NEWS

Gillus said that starting the students off earlier than JV allowed Southampton coaches to teach them the fundamentals earlier, but it also allowed them to preach academics.

“Some kids don’t take school seriously because they don’t understand how important it is,” he said. “This allows us to grab them earlier and push them forward in regard to being prepared for high school. We stress academics.”

Gillus said prior to practice every day there was a study hall.

“It lets them know in the sixth grade that it’s important to do both well, academics and athletics,” he said. “I think we got their attention. They understand that the coaching staff is serious about academics and athletics.”

It’s also a good opportunity for the children to get in the Southampton system.

“We use the same basic fundamentals in the system,” he said.

“The kids will be hearing and seeing the same old fundamentals throughout their playing career at Southampton.”

They ended up with 60 students, and Gillus said he was happy to see so many participating. He also said he wanted to emphasize fun.

“We were basically just trying to teach them the fundamentals, the importance of academics and then we just wanted to let the kids have a lot of fun,” he said. “It was good to be able to get them out there, and let them enjoy football. And it not be so business-like, like we are at the high school program.”

Gillus also wanted to thank the community for coming out and helping.

“We didn’t have a budget for this, but we got it done with the help of the community,” he said. “People and businesses in the community really stepped up. I want to thank all of those people who supported us.”

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