Turning a dream into reality: Virginia Hellcats 8U preps for inaugural season

ROANOKE, Va. – It’s the offseason but a group of 8-and-under kids have been putting their best foot forward for the past three months.

The newly formed Virginia Hellcats AAU program is the most recent example of a dream turning into a reality for Dashawn “Bear” Manning.

“I’ve been coaching, volunteering for the last 6 years,” said Manning, the founder and head coach for the program.

“As soon as I graduated high school, I started off coaching rec basketball and started coaching flag football and I noticed my team was good and I wanted them to play tackle.”

The team just formed in January but has already garnered the interest from dozens of youth from in and around the Roanoke Valley.

But Manning’s goal is to not only grow the Hellcats program but help the Valley as a whole.

“We’re going to push the kids even if they don’t play AAU. I’m here to help out with the whole community to get them on the best teams and just get this football stuff back going considering COVID and the defunding of rec sports. Just get everybody back on the same page, the kids back on the field having fun,” said Manning.

They say experience is the best teacher and the Hellcats coaching staff has lots of it. Many of them having shared either the football field or basketball court as teammates at William Fleming High School.


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