Durham Raiders provide more than just football

By Alanna Dvorak
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

Looking at the two teams, the differences were conspicuous.  One team wore varsity hand-me-downs, in Carolina blue, adorned with UNC logos and patched numbers.  The other wore a simple black and white uniform with Durham screen printed across the front.

This given Sunday, Sept. 12, featured a game of UNC’s Club Football against the Durham Raiders Post Graduate Team.  Durham’s helmets were mismatched over a sea of primarily black faces, but through the different colored facemasks shone an undeniable hunger.

The Durham Raiders (in white) on offense against the UNC club team. (Staff photo by Mallory Darida)

The hunger was not only for the first win of the season, after dropping two games to Jirah Prep and Averett University’s junior varsity squad but also a hunger to succeed, on and off the gridiron.

The Durham Raiders are not your average football team.

The Raiders were founded in 2005, when they joined the Carolina Football Development League, a North Carolina area football league targeting prep (15-18) and post-graduates (19-23) in the area.

The league provides not only a football program, but academic support, community service requirements and life skills training.  Though the league has currently suspended operations for the 2010 season and other teams have folded, the Raiders are holding strong.

The team serves teens and young adults from all over Durham and since the dissolution of other area teams, some players from Wake County as well.

“We don’t have to look for kids; they come,” said Randy Trice, director of the teams.

Trice has a long history of coaching and a passion for helping youth.  For the past 15 years, Trice worked with youth in a variety of ways, ranging from work in group homes to coaching youth sports.  He joined the Raiders at their inception, learning about the league from a former youth player.

The Durham Raiders’ offense lines up against UNC Club Football at Henry Anderson III Park in Carrboro.

Trice and coaches Orlando Rigsby and Johnny Ferguson, as well as donors put both money and time into the program, in hopes of growing the organization.  Though it costs $500 to participate, most players receive scholarships, paid for by donors and sponsors.  But more important than the money is the time spent with the youth.  Trice estimates he spends 15-20 hours with the teams every week, despite working both a 9-5 job and 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. job.

Both the Raiders prep and post-grad teams try to practice twice a week and play games on weekends.  The practice looks unconventional.  The team practices at Sherwood Park in Durham, a field the boys “adopted,” maintaining and cleaning the facility themselves.  The field is smaller than a regulation field, and the boys practice without gear.

The time together, Trice assures, is critical.  “It occupies their time and allows them to be part of something constructive.”

Musa Cliente, a 19-year-old wide receiver from Durham, agrees.   A student at Durham Tech, Cliente joined the Raiders last year.

“The Raiders have helped me in so many ways,” said Cliente.  “It brings guys together; instead of doing things that aren’t right, they play football.”

The Raiders do more than play football.  Academic success is critical to the program and the team hosts academic sessions to aid with scholastics.  The team also features life skills seminars where players work on job skills, character building and community issues.  The community remains a vital concern for the Raiders, who recently hosted a backpack drive for area schoolchildren prior to the start of this past academic year.

The multitude of activities the Raiders participate in, as well as conditioning, keep the group together during most of the year.

Their work paid off against UNC’s team, whom the Raiders beat 12-0, marking the Raiders’ first victory of the season.  Moreover, it’s their first victory against UNC in the the teams’ history.  This past weekend, both the post-graduate and prep teams lost.  Still, the teams remain positive.

Trice says right now his goal is to keep the program running and grow it stronger.  As some Raiders players get older, Trice looks to them for help.

Five-year veteran Vashawn Peaks plans on staying involved with the Raiders, even once he can no longer play.

Glancing at his 3 and 4-year-old sons scuffling, Peaks speculates.  “I plan on staying involved with the Raiders,” he assures.  “Maybe I’ll see my boys out there someday.”

2 thoughts on “Durham Raiders provide more than just football

  1. My husband and i felt so delighted that Albert managed to carry out his investigation via the ideas he got from your very own web pages. It is now and again perplexing to just find yourself offering tips which often people might have been trying to sell. And we also acknowledge we now have the writer to thank for that. The most important explanations you’ve made, the easy website menu, the friendships you will assist to create – it is many fantastic, and it’s helping our son and us imagine that that situation is satisfying, which is certainly really mandatory. Thanks for all the pieces!

Comments are closed.