Youth football team rallies behind teammate on their way to state championship

Published 5:55 am Saturday, November 9, 2019

This weekend, Nov. 9 and 10, the Carolina Storm youth football team from Currituck County has the chance to make history, three times. Their 8U, 10U and 12U teams all have the opportunity to compete in the state championship in Charlotte.

The 8U and 12U teams went undefeated this season. “It’s been a long time coming,” said John Cooper, community liaison. “This weekend shows that hard work pays off, and these teams have been working hard for a long time.”

The 10U team had a little rougher of a start to the season. Not only did they not come out as strong at the start of the season, but an important member of their team has been unable to play.

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Nine-year-old Kayden “Bubby” Smith was diagnosed with a brain tumor after the first couple games of the season. It was said that if not for the concussion he had suffered during one of the games, the doctors may not have found it. For the team, the parents and the community, it was an emotional time.

“I knew we had lost one of our top players, and it was a really emotional part of our season,” said Jimmy Saunders, president and head coach. However, the team rallied behind Smith.

“Some of our sons went to the hospital at 5:30 in the morning to see Bubby before his surgery,” Elissa Copper, board member, said. “My son smuggled in a football and they all started throwing it around the waiting room.” Although hospital staff confiscated that football, the boys found another one to toss around right after.

“It really put light on such a dark moment,” Elissa said. Smith had a plate put in to protect the affected areas in his brain and hopes to join his team out on the field next year.

After asking Smith how he felt about all that had happened in this short period of time, he responded with one simple word: “proud.” Serving as an inspiration for his team, Smith went to every practice and every game to watch his team rise to the occasion and make it to states.

“It’s incredible,” Saunders said. “It’s our inaugural season, and we got it together. It’s a family; we always say ‘Storm family’ and ‘Storm strong’ because that’s what we are. We rolled that over to Bubby because of how strong he’s been.”

As far as the coaches are concerned, they’re ready to bring that strength to the field this weekend. “It’s our chance to be the first in the history of Currituck to win a state title in football,” John said. “We had two high school teams get to the final game in 1980 and 1989, but they never won. We get three chances this weekend. We’re planning to go win.”

The team prepared to head out to Charlotte Saturday morning. Smith said he’ll be there, cheering on his teammates from the sidelines as they set out to make history.