Smithfield Packer Youth Sports asks for more town support

Published 5:39 pm Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Parents, players and coaches involved with Smithfield Packer Youth Sports made a showing at Smithfield’s May 4 Town Council meeting to ask for greater financial support during the portion of the meeting reserved for citizen comments.

Specifically, the organization is asking for improvements to the town-owned Luter Sports Complex on West Main Street where they play.

According to Sean Kelly, who serves as treasurer and social media coordinator for the group, location constraints in 2019 resulted in cheer practices being divided among Carrollton Elementary, Westside Elementary and the Smithfield middle school/high school complex where the football teams practice. This led to some transportation issues for parents with multiple children at different age levels.

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A field house located at the sports complex, where teams could practice despite any weather conditions, would help resolve this issue, he said.

Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams in past years has expressed an interest in the town constructing an indoor sports facility for the complex on land where the historic Wombwell house currently stands. The Isle of Wight County Historical Society’s negotiations with the town to lease the house and convert it to a headquarters for their group fell through last month, so the home’s fate is once again uncertain. But Smithfield Packer Youth Sports hasn’t taken a position on the matter, Kelly said.

The youth sports group is also looking for lights to be placed on the sports complex’s football field so it can accommodate nighttime makeup games and host bowl events. They’ve already received a $20,000 grant from Musco Lights but the total cost is estimated to range between $160,000 to $180,000.

“The Town plans are several years out for that improvement,” Kelly said.

“I need your support; Smithfield Packer Youth Sports, they need your support,” said Charlene Jordan, one of the adults involved with the program.

Kelly said Smithfield Packer Youth Sports has 98 football players and 27 cheerleaders ages 5-14 this spring. The organization was formerly associated with Pop Warner, an international nonprofit youth sports organization, but became its own entity last year so its participants could play in the Peninsula Youth Football and Cheer Organization, which places student-athletes in direct competition with regional teams and players they’ll likely encounter in high school should they choose to continue their athletic careers.

According to Town Manager Michael Stallings, adding lights to the football field at the sports complex is slated for fiscal year 2024-2025 per Smithfield’s Capital Improvements Plan.