OAK RIDGE (WATE) – Oak Ridge parents were upset after hearing their kids’ youth football program got kicked out of the league almost a week before the first scrimmage. The Volunteer Football Conference made the decision and parents learned it was because the program didn’t have enough players.
Many Oak Ridge kids look forward to football season every year. Kimberly Holt’s 9-year-old son Tory is playing in Oak Ridge’s youth football program.
“He loves playing football. They live for this time of the year,” Holt said.
The program got kicked out on Tuesday night.
“I just don’t believe that adults could come to a decision to break children’s heart and not be able to come up with a better solution,” she said.
“The city is in turmoil. I guarantee most of this city hasn’t been asleep a lot,” said coach DJ Pendergrass.
Pendergrass coaches Holt’s son and said everyone lives and breathes football in this city. Kids have been practicing for two weeks getting ready for a scrimmage coming up. Pendergrass said according to league rules, the program had three more weeks to get the numbers up.
“We are dominant in that league. Oak Ridge is normally on top and it’s east versus west in the championship and it was just a good way to get us out of there.” Pendergrass said.
Parents said about 100 kids are affected by this decision. Tory was one of those upset
“He was angry that he might not be able to play football,” said Holt.
Parents were working tirelessly to find another league to play in on such short notice. Parents along with the Boys and Girls Club met Wednesday night to discuss the program’s future. They said several leagues have reached out to welcome the Oak Ridge program. One of them included Knox County.
It cost $75 to participate in the Oak Ridge youth football program. The director of the Oak Ridge Boys and Girls Club said if families do not wish to play in another league, they can receive a full refund after returning equipment.
The Volunteer Football Conference released this statement:
“The Volunteer Football Conference exhausted any and all means to come up with a solution that fits into the leagues bylaws and rules. It is an unfortunate situation and the Oak Ridge Organization was given options that would allow them to remain in the league and refused. These were the best and only options available to stay in the bylaws and rules of the Volunteer Football Conference.”