The excitement of the Lake Highlands Youth Football Association’s 30th anniversary is dampened by the league’s struggle to stay on top of its finances.

In 1975, the program was created to train kids for junior high football as elementary schools in the area eliminated their football teams. Wildcat Football has since grown to approximately 130 kids, ranging in ages from 4 to 12. Kids are placed on four different teams, depending on their age, and each team has its own cheerleading squad.

Since the program’s start, it has received the majority of its funding from the parents of the children who participate.

But due to factors such as rising costs, unsuccessful fundraisers and parents having trouble finding the money to support it, the league is reaching out to our neighborhood for help.

According to league president Henry “Scooter” Moomaw, about half of the parents are below the average income level, but in order for their children to play, they must pay $185 per child per season.

“We’re dealing with people who are on food stamps,” parent Shannon Jones says about some of the program’s parents. “The league is a big deal to them though. They aren’t bad parents; they just haven’t been given a break.”

The league’s greatest expenses are renting the Lake Highlands High School practice field for games and outfitting the teams when uniforms and equipment wear out. With all costs included, the league spends about $20,000 per year.

“Some board members and sponsors are doing what they can to help out, but they can’t afford much more than they are paying,” Moomaw says. “We’re also looking for more sponsors, both charitable and advertisers, and looking for people who would like to become a partner.”

Jones says giving the league a fighting chance is important because it provides kids with a second chance and can help turn their lives around if they’re headed in the wrong direction.

“[Wildcat Football] is very disciplined,” she says. “It’s interracial, and it’s good for the kids to be around other cultures. We’re all like one big family now, and it’s really changed the community.”

Moomaw says Wildcat Football welcomes any help and all contributions are tax deductible. The league also has set up different sponsor levels.

“Our kids can’t afford under-armor. They wear T-shirts with the sleeves cut off,” Jones says. “These kids deserve all the help they can get. They really appreciate what we do for them.”