by Cesca Janece Waterfield
The Virginia Hornets have major sting. And the semi-pro adult, outdoor minor league football team in Richmond is committed to showing players not only how to score touchdowns, but how to make convincing steps to success at home and in their communities.
On July 31, they’ll face the North Carolina Stallions at Huguenot High School. General Manager Darryl Badley Jr. makes clear: “These are fast-paced, hard hitting, NFL quality games that provide family friendly atmosphere. It’s affordable family entertainment in Richmond on a Saturday night.”
But this week’s game will be particularly competitive: Michael Wright, current owner and coach of the Stallions was the original founder of the Hornets 16 years ago along with Hornets’ Head Coach and Co-Founder, Clifford Jefferson.
“Since Mike moved to North Carolina to start the team there,” Darryl explains, “the Hornets and Stallions are sister teams. It’s like UVA and Virginia Tech are both Virginia schools. We root for [the Stallions] when they’re playing every body else but we hate them when we’re playing each other.”
Along with current owner and fellow coach Clifford “Perk” Jefferson, Darryl is confident the Hornets can handle the Stallions.
Other challenges, they tackle day by day. “The biggest challenge is the fact that most of the young men that we recruit, a lot of them don’t have the finances to support themselves in this game,” Darryl says. “A lot of these young men are from inner city Richmond and don’t have the money and we as an organization have to front the money. The fields that we use, the buses, the insurance, we pay for out of our pockets.”
Apart from field goals and touchdowns, why do they do it?
“To serve our community,” Darryl says. “What we do is show the young men the importance of giving back and the importance of aspiring to greater things than just looking after yourself. Our goal, apart from developing these young men as football players, is we want to show them that there’s more to life than just football.”
The Hornets have volunteered for the March of Dimes, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the Virginia Food Bank.
Darryl says it’s gratifying to see a young man holding a football one season and entering college during another. “Because of our relationship with colleges in the area, we’ve been able to use our organization as a springboard into college. We’ve had numerous young men get their GED, and then springboard into college.”
Their sting and their spirit are in support of Richmond, Darryl says: “There is a community and some of these young men were taking from it. We try to show them, you have to be an inspiration to those who are out there around you.”
The Hornets play the Stallions July 31, Huguenot High School, 7945 Forest Hill Ave., Richmond. They practice Tues. – Thurs 7 – 9 pm, Westover Hills Elementary School, 1211 Jahnke Rd. in Richmond. To participate as a player, cheerleader, or booster, contact Darryl at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are $7, 7 pm. Children age 10 and younger are free.