ST. PETERSBURG — The Lake Maggiore Gators are back and excited to kick off the new youth football season.
The organization completed its inaugural year in 2014 and President Anthony Hart believes it is coming back better and stronger this year. With new board members in place and new coaches coming aboard, the organization would like to attract a greater number of youngsters to its football teams and cheerleading squads, he said.
As part of Mid-Florida Youth Football Conference, the Gators face competition from all over the Bay area. The age groups include Flag (4-6 year olds), Mitey Mites (7 and 8 year olds), Pee Wee (9 and 10 year olds), Junior (11 and 12 year olds) and Seniors (13 and 14 year olds).
Hart pointed out that teens who turned 15 on or after January 1 can participate in the Seniors group, provided they are not 10th graders. Anywhere from 30 to 45 slots are available for each group, and there is no weight limitation.
Hart admitted that the new organization faced its share of “trials and tribulations” in its first year from seeking sponsorships and support to simply trying to secure a place to play. As a youth, Hart played football himself and felt that his coaches were always there for him so he is determined to continue to provide positive adult role models for impressionable kids.
“If I can show them that I get up and go to work every day and make a successful living,” he said, “then, hey, so can you! School is important. You’ve got to have your grades.”
A strong advocate of education, Hart sees to it that the organization has trained tutors available to the children.
“We have several teachers in our program,” he affirmed, adding that the tutoring services are held Mondays in the conference room of his office at 833 22nd St. S., Ste. A.
With conditioning camps slated to begin on April 11 and the first day of official practice on July 6, the season will kick off in August. Though Hart has been talking to the City of St. Pete concerning a possible new locale for the Gators to play their home games, it appears they will likely use the Gibbs High School football field again for games and the adjacent baseball field for practices, Hart said.
Gate admission is free for children three years old and under, $4 for 4 to 15 year olds and $5 for those 16 and over.
Hart would like to encourage fellow local youth organization presidents to work together in providing the best possible sports league for the kids.
“Everybody should know that Lake Maggiore Gators is an up and coming organization and we’re here to help the kids in Pinellas County,” he said. “The purpose of us doing what we do is to better these young kids, girls and boys.”
For information on registering for Lake Maggiore Gators football or cheerleading, call Anthony Hart at (941) 536-6770, Jasmine Stone at (727) 254-2138 or Rachel Jerger at (727) 301-4398.
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