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East Bay Bucs youth football and cheerleading squads kick off 25 years of success

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image The East Bay Buccaneers Youth Football and Cheerleading League is celebrating 25 years of success. Registration for 2012 begins Feb. 4. Photo courtesy of Jason Hillman

A dream comes full circle...

By MITCH TRAPHAGEN

GIBSONTON — What began as a dream from prominent local businessmen 25 years ago has come full circle. This year, the East Bay Buccaneers Youth Football and Cheerleading organization will kick off a season better than ever and with sights set on a new home.

The East Bay Buccaneers Youth Football and Cheerleading League, Inc. is a Florida non-profit organization that sponsors youth cheerleading and full contact football teams for children ages 6 to 14. The organization is a member of the Gulf Coast Youth Football Conference (GCYFC). All coaches and board members are unpaid volunteers.

In 2010, organization president Jason Hillman and other board members began meeting with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) officials and Hillsborough County Parks administrators to secure a permanent home for the organization at Vance Vogel Park in Gibsonton. Practices had been held at the park since 1990, but until now, the games had been held at East Bay High School. On January 26, Hillman received written approval for the proposal. The East Bay Buccaneers organization will fully fund the project and the facilities needed at the park.

With the organization’s direction firmly in place, open registration for the 2012 season will take place at Vance Vogel Park on Saturday, Feb. 18 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Registration for returning children will take place on Saturday, Feb. 4 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Up to 360 athletes, 180 enrolled in football and 180 enrolled in the cheerleading squad, will kick off the season as practices begin in July.  The football squad is broken into five divisions based on the age and weight of the child. The East Bay Buccaneers are part of a league of 10 organizations, with game days on Saturday beginning in August.

At a date yet to be determined during the season, the organization is planning a 25th anniversary celebration to honor founders Howard Corr, Harley Burnett, Dave Sutherland, and Gary Moore; local sponsors; and the thousands of young people who passed through the program, some of whom have gone from participant to volunteer coach over the course of those years.

The organization is also seeking donations from the community and sponsorships from area businesses to help fund their new home field. Donations can be sent to the East Bay Buccaneers, PO Box 599, Gibsonton, FL, 33535. For information on how you can help, email info@eastbaybucs.org.

“Anytime you have an organization that has been devoted to youth program for that long is a huge accomplishment,” organization president Jason Hillman said. “I’m glad that I can be a part of this first class organization during this special time. It takes a lot of unpaid volunteers to run this organization and I would like to say thank you to everyone that has been or is a part of this organization.”

For information about the East Bay Buccaneers Youth Football and Cheerleading League, visit their website at www.eastbaybucs.org. For registration on Feb. 4 and Feb. 18, Vance Vogel Park is located at 13010 Bullfrog Creek Road in Gibsonton.

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