The Little Raiders are trying to raise $10,350 so that every player out for the three teams has a uniform.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
WARREN -- The three Warren Little Raiders football teams in the Trumbull Youth Athletic Conference have 174 players this year -- but only 105 uniforms and a no-cut policy.
That means that the teams (ages 6-8, 9-10 and 11-12) have to come up with 69 new uniforms before the season opens Aug. 18, and each one costs $150. So they have to raise $10,350.
James Gavin, the Little Raiders' president, said they were able to raise money to buy the 105 uniforms needed last year through a $9,600 gift from Korey Stringer, and from sponsors in the community.
Stringer, a native of Warren who played for the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL, died last summer from heat stroke during a preseason practice.
More uniforms needed
But Gavin, a former Warren Western Reserve High football player, said that this year the Little Raiders have more players and also have to replace some equipment, so they need more uniforms.
Gavin said each uniform consists of a helmet, shoulder pads, practice pants, practice jersey, game pants, game jersey, rib protector and a seven-piece pad set. Players supply their own shoes.
"The bottom line is we need this money as soon as possible. If we don't raise the money, we have enough for 105 [players] but  won't play," said Gavin, in his second year as president after serving three years as a coach and athletic director.
"We are a asking anyone with the financial capability to donate money so we can buy these uniforms," Gavin said.
Like last year, Gavin said they are trying to raise money with the help of area businesses and patrons. He said they sell business sponsors' discount cards to patrons for $5 each, and patrons may redeem the $5 discount from the business.
"Each kid is responsible for selling eight cards," Gavin said. "But, [the funds raised] wouldn't help us right at this point."
Gavin said they don't want to cut any player because of the benefits each one gains from team membership.
"We have no-cut policy because at that age how can you really justify that [a kid] can't play," he said. "It's better to keep them on the squad and give them a good start in life."
He said the teams serve a double role of providing athletics and family reinforcement.
"A lot of times, we are the only male figures these kids will have in life," Gavin said. "Most of the coaches live in the area, and it's like a big family."
The Little Raiders also have 60 cheerleaders.
"The cheerleaders have uniforms. All we have to do is buy them pom poms," Gavin said.
Other Little Raiders' officials are Cynthia Anderson, treasurer; Danielle May, secretary; Mike Mitchell, athletic director; Joe Blank, sergeant at arms; and Pam McCoy, cheerleaders advisor.
The teams practice at Deemer Park, located behind Warren Western Reserve Elementary School.
Gavin is asking anyone interested in helping the Little Raiders to call him at (330) 399-4621 or Keith Jordan at (330) 219-7863.