Football has finally come to VCU. There’s a catch, though. It is not the NCAA team everyone has been asking about – it’s club.
The idea of the club’s creation began back in November 2010, when five students who went to James River High School wanted to create a tackle football team. These five students also happened to be former football players at James River who just wanted to return to the gridiron.
“We wanted to play football again; that’s something we all talked about. And to be the ones to bring it to VCU would be pretty incredible,” junior James Tait, the current president of club football, said. “We’ve been working on it ever since that (the idea formation) happened, just taking small steps. We’ve gotten to the point now where it’s real; we’re here.”
Tait said he was able to meet with the Alumni Association of VCU in order to obtain connections to start the club, get practice schedules and a location to practice and play. The club’s vice president, senior Jules Charles, and treasurer, sophomore Erik Kelly, also helped. The three members recently had a meeting with VCU’s athletic director, Norwood Teague.
However, while this seems to be like “a dream come true” to everyone involved in the program, it has yet to hit some that this is actually happening.
“I feel that once we play our first game, when we have everything done, that’s when it will sink in with me,” Kelly said.
The season will consist of nine games all together, four of which will be played at home at the Thomas Jefferson High School field on West Grace Street.
The first game will be an away game on Aug. 27 against the Hampton Roads Gators. The first home game will be on Sept. 10 against Radford. So far Tait said that he is confident in the upcoming season.
“By Aug. 27, I see us as a rough-draft of our team. Two to three weeks into the season, I feel like we’re going to be in for them,” Tait said. “As far as talent goes, we have a good amount of talent currently, and we’re going to have a lot more people come out in August.”
The first day of practice, as well as the first day of tryouts, will be Aug. 15. Unlike other football programs, though, the club team will not have two-a-days. Instead, team hopefuls will dress in full pads for one practice a day for two weeks prior to the first game.
Tait said that cuts will be based on dedication rather than skill.
“People don’t like to practice. Everyone just wants to play the game. But the bottom line is if you don’t come to practice, you’re not going to play in the game; the coaches have made that clear.”
The team currently has a three-man coaching staff that consists of head coach Lamar Calloway and assistant coaches Alfonzo Bell and Jared Wormley, all of whom have previous football experience. Calloway played football at VMI as a tailback. Bell coached at Cumberland High School in Cumberland County, Va., for 21 years and was the varsity head coach for 11 years. Wormley played running back at Ferrum College.
Each coach is strictly a volunteer. Vice president Jules Charles was responsible for the recruitment of the coaches. Charles works at American Family Fitness Center, where a lot of former football players and coaches go. He met Calloway and Wormley there and explained to them that they would be volunteers only. He was successfully able to reel them in as coaches for club football.
“They both know that this is strictly voluntary, but just the simple thought of helping VCU was a big deal to them, so they immediately wanted to hop on board to help us out,” Charles said.
Even though Rams fans ultimately want a Division I NCAA football team as a fall sport at VCU, Tait said that even if that happens he will still keep the club team running. He said he did not start this with four other James River alumni to start an NCAA team, he did it because he wanted to play football again and wanted to give others the opportunity as well.
“It gives students who aren’t gifted enough or were unable to play college football a chance to play the game of football,” Tait said. “It is, in my opinion, the ultimate team sport.”