River City Outlaws Semi-Pro Football Gains Momentum in Mason Dixon League and Inspires Future Leaders -- by Laura Bush Jenkins

It's every parent's dream to see his or her child find his passion and pursue it.  Fourteen year-old Robbie Midgett, a three-sport athlete, fuels his passion for football by assisting coaches and players on the River City Outlaws, a newly-formed semi-professional football team based in Elizabeth City.

"I think about how much heart we all have," Robbie says, referring to the camaraderie he feels makes the Outlaws distinct. "The whole team is doing something vs being a one-man show."

Midgett isn't the only young man who's noticed the Outlaws and connected with them.  When the Police Athletic League youth football team finishes practice in Memorial Park, kids stand at attention, engrossed in what's happening, hesitant to leave.

"Kids look up to these young men like adults look at gladiators," says head coach and founder John Young, Elizabeth City Deputy police chief.

Instead of basking in celebrity status and superficial levels of engagement with fans, each of the nearly 60 players personally commits to community projects like reading to schoolchildren and rehabbing damaged homes.

Coach Young established the team with the idea of giving back.  A native of Perquimans County, he remembered watching Catfish Hunter play baseball as a kid, and the players' benevolence left a lasting impression.  

When his youngest son later played for the Virginia Crusaders, Young noticed the impact head coach Larry Stith's model made and envisioned a similar framework. 

The Outlaws name puts a humorous spin on how many players come from law enforcement backgrounds.  Instead of going home after a long day and keeping to themselves, players are out in the community serving as role models and interacting with those of diverse backgrounds.

"We have guys who are blue collar workers playing with entrepreneurs," noted Steve "Wolfman" Young, a retired Army Staff Sergeant who was recruited to play college football but decided to serve his country after September 11th.

Coach Young plans to continue scouting for "untapped talent" in the region. Many players were looking for a venue to continue football after high school or college, are were willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be an example to others.

"[My involvement in the football team] creates a lot of dinner-time talk within our family," says player Eddie Smith.  A father of three, Smith played college football and was looking to get back into the sport when he and his wife Stacy moved to Elizabeth City.

The team's mission and impact are attracting crucial partnerships with area businesses, including Biggs Cadillac and Elizabeth City Pawn & Gun.

"Biggs is a family-owned dealership that is a community supporter," says General Manager Rick Durren.  "As a semi-pro team comes to Elizabeth City, this is a great opportunity for young men.  We support the Outlaws because we're sowing seeds in the community."    

"Elizabeth City Pawn & Gun is proud to partner with the River City Outlaws in their outreach to the community," says Manager Evelyn Bolac.  "This is where it all starts in terms of making a difference and stretching those hometown roots."

For information on partnering with the River City Outlaws or to view the upcoming game schedule, visit the River City Outlaws Facebook page or contact Captain Young personally at 252 722-2381.
River City Outlaws Semi-Pro Football Gains Momentum in Mason Dixon League and Inspires Future Leaders -- by Laura Bush Jenkins River City Outlaws Semi-Pro Football Gains Momentum in Mason Dixon League and Inspires Future Leaders -- by Laura Bush Jenkins Reviewed by kensunm on 7:00:00 PM Rating: 5

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