“Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.” Coach Eric Taylor said these words before every football game in the ever-popular TV drama, Friday Night Lights. Whether it’s on a TV show or on a field in Far Rockaway, football has the power to provide new opportunities and transform young lives. Fourteen years ago, Dexter Archbold used his own money and started Rockaway Ravens Sports, Inc., which includes football, cheerleading and soccer programs. He wanted to give kids in his community the chance to play their favorite sport and the chance to be something more. “I’ve grown up in Far Rockaway and I’m a longtime resident here. We have eight miles of five housing projects, we decided to create this program and be part of the solution, not the problem,” Archbold said. “We are investing in our community.” The organization pushes it athletes to work hard and excel in everything that they do, and Archbold believes this is the formula that continues to make his programs a success. “Students can use this as an opportunity to get ahead,” he said. “We have kids go to prestigious high schools because of their grades and because of their skills on the field, my own son even got a scholarship and we had another athlete go to the University of Connecticut.” Rockaway Ravens Sports is probably most well-known to residents for its youth football teams, and this past Saturday the 11 and under team held a car wash on Beach 46th Street.
Suds were flying and water was flowing as the young boys raised money for their upcoming season. In exchange for their scrubbing services, car owners donated what they could to the team. “The money from this can go toward uniforms, equipment and registration fees. Some kids can’t pay and we don’t want them to be excluded just because of that,” Defense Coach Isaac Davis said. “We want them to have a chance to play.” Team Mom Barbara Dasent remarked how the fundraiser was not just about getting the necessary funds to support the team; it was about teaching the players another great life lesson. “This activity fosters even more teamwork. We are together no matter what and you can see that,” she said.
For most of the players, this was their first time washing cars and they relished in the opportunity to learn a new skill and have fun with their teammates.
“It’s just about getting the kids involved, having a good time and letting them get wet on a hot summer day,” Davis said. Archbold reflected on the fundraising event and how the Rockaway Ravens are about more than just the game of football. He said, “Everyone here are volunteers. We don’t get paid. The payment is watching these kids further themselves.”