WILLIAMSBURG — The Williamsburg Hornets Youth Football and Cheerleading league has been a staple in the community for over 20 years.
The organization planted its roots in the area in 2000 with the goal of providing a youth football league for the area’s kids who were interested in learning the sport.
“Youth football is probably one of those sports that, in every community, brings the community together,” said Williamsburg Hornets President Nathan Keith in an interview with WYDaily. “Williamsburg is not a big city. So that is one of the reasons why the organization was started. It was pretty much to get all the kids interested in football and cheerleading, and having something for the children to do outside the normal soccer, lacrosse, and things like that.”
The Williamsburg Hornets compete in the Peninsula Youth Football and Cheerleading Organization (PYFCO).
According to PYFCO’s website, “PYFCO began in 1960 and has grown to 12 leagues representing three cities and three counties. In 2022, PYFCO will enjoy our 63rd year!”
The Hornets league provides football opportunities to the following age groups:
- 6 and under (flag football)
- 8 and under
- 10 and under
- 12 and under
When COVID-19 hit in 2020, the Hornets had to forgo its season. The youth league started back up in 2021, and, at that time, it had about 130 football players and about 100 cheerleaders.
2022 is the first year that the Hornets are playing spring football. The league offers spring football for three age groups and has about 100 participants.
“We’re the type of organization where it’s not all about winning to us,” said Keith. “We actually want to teach the game. So, we have some of the best coaches, and they will actually teach the fundamentals of football. Once they get the fundamentals, that’s when we start to worry about actually winning and losing on a grand scale. We just want to make sure the kids have the fundamentals down, and that also mitigates the risk of getting injured.”
The league anticipates around 400 participants during the fall season.
“The fall season will start around August 21. That’ll run through the middle of November,” said Keith. “We’re going to have 7 teams total and probably around 6 coaches per team. So about 35 to 42 coaches throughout the program.”
The Hornets travel all over the region to play against other teams in Smithfield, Hampton, Newport News, Gloucester, and Poquoson.
If a team outperforms and does well throughout the season, they have a chance to travel to Florida to compete in a national championship setting.
Many of the youth football players in the area use the Hornets as a launchpad to go on to play for the area’s middle and high school teams. However, for many, including Keith, it is about teaching the fundamentals of the game and providing opportunities for kids to play football.
“It’s a unique situation for us because it’s a tight-knit community. So we’re definitely in the business of teaching the game, and actually bringing kids back into football because it’s a nationwide thing,” said Keith. “Participation in football in the last 10 years has fallen about 30-40%. So now we’re trying to get that interest back into football and make sure that parents are aware that it’s not a dangerous sport. We make sure that we have equipment that’s properly suited for the kids.”
The Hornets have opened up its registration for both youth football and cheerleading. The registration is offered both online and in person. The in-person registration is offered because the Hornets help fit jerseys and equipment for players.
“In-person registration is Wednesdays at Hornsby Middle School between 6-8 p.m.,” Keith said.
For more information on the football league please check out the Williamsburg Hornets website and its Facebook page.