A group of 10 Louisville youth football players were selected to play in the 2nd annual Diamond Sports Group All American Bowl Games in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium, during New Years Day weekend.
Diamond Sports Group is a sports marketing company that also provides testing combines for youth football and baseball athletes to display their talent on a national level. According to the Diamond Sports Group website, the company specializes in highlighting athletes, grades 3-12, who may not be afforded the opportunity to participate in national camp combines. The purpose is to connect talented student athletes with collegiate programs willing to offer student athletes full or partial scholarships.
Diamond Sports Group offers training and assessment football combines for youth and high school athletes to display their skills and potential through speed, agility and strength testing. The football combines are currently available in 19 states and according to the website, the program is rapidly expanding. The price for each athlete to attend a combine is $75 and each participant will have 9 Drills to complete to obtain a Diamond Certification Rating and Assessment.
Athletes that obtain a Diamond Certification at the state combines are eligible to compete in the annual Diamond Sports Group All American Bowl Games, which are comprised of athletes from all over the United States and Canada. Athletes can also become eligible to compete in the All American Bowl Games by having an application submitted to the Diamond Sports Group by their athletic coach or parent. Applications submitted by coaches and parents often must include the athlete’s stats and a highlight video.
This season the Diamond Sports Group Youth All American Bowl is being played in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina during the New Years Day weekend. Technically there will be a total of 7 All American Bowl games played throughout the weekend to cover the various divisions which are: 3&4 grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, 9th grade, and 12th grade.
Each division will have a roster of 70 players that will be divided into a 35 player Red team and a 35 player White team. The Red team and the White team of each division will then face each other in the All American game. The Diamond Sports Groups states that the matchup isn’t the typical East vs West format but rather a Best vs the Best format.
Being selected for the All American Bowl is very exclusive and this season only ten athletes from Louisville, KY were invited to compete out of a total of 490 athletes selected from the U.S. and Canada.
3rd & 4th Grade Division
#60 RB – Deion Winstead
#4 RB – Anthony Barbee IV
#28 DB – Micheal Curry Jr.
#57 DB – Keith Hadley Jr.
5th Grade Division
#59 OL/DL – Travis Brown
#61 OL/DL – William Richardson IV
#31 TE – Khrystian Washington
#3 RB – Xavier Brown
6th Grade Division
#6 RB – Amir Roberts
7th Grade Division
#11 DB – Darius Brown
In addition to the players, the head coach for the 3&4 grade team was also selected from Louisville, KY. Keith Hadley (27) is a graduate of Morehead University, is currently the Metro Louisville Youth Association (MLYA) coach for Cougar Youth and has been coaching youth football for the past six years. Michael Curry (Head Coach of the Cougar Youth – Pee Wees) and Travis Brown (Head Coach for the Doss Dragons – Pee Wees) will also accompany Hadley as coaches of the 3&4 grade division.
“My first year as head coach, I took my team (Cougars) to the championship and fell a little short. I stepped back to actually get a bigger picture and try to get to the AYFL [American Youth Football League] and do tournaments outside of it. I’ve won Kentuckiana Classic’s, I’ve won Collision of the Counties, and numerous other tournaments.” – Keith Hadley
Hadley submitted an application to coach in the Diamond Sports Group All American Bowl Games early in 2015 and also accompanied several players at the Diamond Sports Group football combines in Lexington, KY. Diamond Sports Group personnel were impressed with his resume and coaching at particular tournaments and selected him as the All American Bowl Game head coach for the 3&4 grade division.
In preparation for the All American Bowl Game, coaches Hadley, Curry and Brown would meet with several players selected from Louisville at a local park on numerous evenings to help the players sharpen their skills. Team parent, Anthony Barbee Jr was also very instrumental in helping the youth from Louisville organize their practices and plan for the trip to Myrtle Beach.
I met with the coaches and six of the players selected from Louisville on a rainy evening at Shively Park on December 21, 2016 following one of their practices. All of the players seemed to be very excited about making the trip to Myrtle Beach and they all said that their biggest goal was to “Represent Louisville” in the All American Bowl Game.
The players will travel to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on December 29, 2015 and the 3&4 grade division All American Bowl Game will be played on January 1, 2016. The games for divisions 5-12 grade will be played on January 2, 2016.