After five years of trying to build a new program, the founder of Panther Youth Football will not bring the team back for the 2014 season.
Team founder Dwayne Grady, who started Panther Youth Football in 2009 and held practices at Tracy Learning Center, said that losing people to the new Tracy Rampage last year forced him to recruit new coaches and players for the 2013 season — and it became clear that 2014 would be the same.
He added that while he regretted shutting down the Panther program, he and his wife, Angie, had kept the team going for five years at great personal expense.
“I feel good that we could do that, but it crushed me that we didn’t get the loyalty that we expected for all of the time, effort and money we put into it,” Grady said.
Grady will coach the Modesto Kingsmen varsity team in the Trans Valley Youth Football League.
He started Panther Youth Football in 2009, when the other three local programs, the Tracy Raiders (now Junior Bulldogs), the Tracy Cougars and the Tracy Buccaneers, were full and had to turn players away.
“We came in at a time when it was needed, when a lot of kids couldn’t play,” Grady said.
By the 2011 season, the players who had joined up the first year as junior novice players went undefeated at the novice level and won the TVYFL championship.
“What should have been a high point for us was a low point,” Grady said, adding that the program suffered from internal dissent over coaching styles and goals during the next year.
“It has gotten away from what youth sports is all about, which is helping kids,” he said. “When we looked at it this year, it became a realization that Tracy has outgrown us.”
Contact Bob Brownne at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4227.