A Five Towns youth institution is trying to make a comeback. Founded in 1956, the Inwood Buccaneers Athletic Club has been a staple of youth sports, offering children with an opportunity to play football or cheer during the fall, and play basketball during the winter; because of low enrollment numbers the organization hasn’t been able to run a football program since 2015. This year, the Buccaneers hope that changes.
As a part of the Nassau County Youth Football League, the Inwood Buccaneers have had teams for children age six through 12, from there out children can join their middle or high school teams. “We’re looking to expose the kids to the game when they’re younger,” said Ilyassha Shivers, who is a coach. “It’s not about winning, it’s about having fun and teaching the kids to play the game.”
Aware at some concerns that parents may have about having their children playing football, Shivers said that the players are taught the correct way to tackle, with their heads up, but also said that at the younger levels kids are doing a lot more grabbing and dragging than they are tackling. Teams practice three times a week, but two of them are non-contact days, practice will include helmets and shoulder pads, but only to get the players used to the wearing the equipment.
The season is from September to mid-November with eight weeks of games before the playoffs. “We’re looking to start up with two to three teams, with possibly 60 to 80 kids,” said Frank DeCicco Jr., the Buccaneers president. “But what we need is adults. We need coaches.”
Shivers and DeCicco both expressed their disappointment in the dissolution of the football team. Both were on the team when they were younger, and remember the lifelong friendships they made while playing. Both view the Buccaneers as a way not only to get children outside and away from playing video games, but as a way to build community and family relationships. “It’s a shame it’s at this point,” Shivers said. “To be able to share football with your kids, to me that’s priceless.”
Shivers has an extra stake in the program’s revitalization, as he hopes to enroll his sons, Judah, 5 and Elijah, 8. Both boys seemed excited to play. “Football is a good sport,” said Elijah. “It teaches sportsmanship, and the Buccaneers are fun for kids. It teaches kids how to be friends, it doesn’t matter if you win or not.”
“The Buccaneers have things to show you,” Judah said. “So if you can play it can help you have a better life. The coaches watch you and help you tackle and do cool tricks.”
Shivers and DeCicco said that the cheerleading program accompanies the football program, but girls are welcome to play football as well. There will be one more in-person registration on July 11, at the Buccaneers’ clubhouse, 275 Lawrence Ave., Lawrence, from 6. to 8 p.m. Parents can also register online at inwoodbuccaneers.siplay.com/site/.
There is a $125 fee which covers equipment, insurance and other fees, but DeCicco said they’re more than willing to set up payment plans. The help support the athletic club and cover some scholarships for players, the fifth annual Inwood Buccaneers Frank DeCicco Memorial Golf Outing will take place on July 16 at the Inwood Country Club. Contact DeCicco at (516) 330-6961 or go to inwoodbuccaneers.siplay.com/site/.