AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Richard Hand is the president of the local youth football organization, Dogs United. He’s also the coach of the boys 11U team. They play in the American Youth Football League, known as AYF. In December, they had a big reason to come together and celebrate.
“We went down to nationals this year and competed at the 6U level, 11U level, 12U level and brought back a national championship to the CSRA,” says Hand. “Our 6u Dogs finished third in the nation, our 12u Dogs finished second in the nation. And our 11u Dogs finished number one, national champs,” he added.
The team met at First Baptist Church in Augusta to celebrate the program success, handing out trophies, rings, necklaces and other gifts to the players, coaches and others who helped with the programs.
Hand says it’s the first time a team from the CSRA has won an AYF National Championship. “We were formerly Augusta Bulldogs, we combined with CRTGB Bulldogs to make one program, Dawgs United,” says Hand.
When he says Dogs United, he means it.
“Dogs United is made up of kids from Burke County, North Augusta, Lincoln County, Thomson, Richmond County and Columbia County. So when I say Dawgs United, I mean bringing everybody together,” added Hand.
After losing in the 10U championship game a year ago, it was a long road back to reach their ultimate goal.
“Advancing to the nationals, you’ve got to win conference, after you win conference you’ve got to win state, after you win state you’ve got to win regionals. So we were in Florida three weeks for the month of December,” says Hand.
It takes a huge commitment from the players, coaches, parents and sponsors.
“The commitment from our community and our sponsors was huge. Solvay, Newsome Electric, Scott Rhodes, Brian Legging. We took 75 kids to Florida for a complete week, so it takes everybody,” says Hand.
If you’re interested in joining, Dogs United will kickoff again in the spring.
“We give the kids a break, we promote other sports, but come March or April we start conditioning and get together. There’s no tryouts, we open the doors to anybody.”
Hand adds that Dogs United is about more than just kids playing football. “We’re a football program, but we preach the family atmosphere. We pray together, we play together, we live together and you can see the hard work. This is all from one year, and it’s big, it’s really big.”