By Wil Crews
Having completed a two-day showcase tournament last weekend in Jacksonville, Florida, the Opelika Dawg Pound is rearing towards a busy end of summer.
“We’re growing and getting more support from the community,” said Opelika Dawg Pound Founder Anthony Bryant.
The Dawg Pound has several events scheduled throughout the rest of July. Some are football related, some are in accordance with the community-driven goals of The Knee High Foundation Inc. (The non-profit started by Bryant.)
Firstly, The Knee High Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County are partnering together to hold the annual Back 2 School Bookbag Drive on Sunday, July 18 at 1610 Toomer St. in Opelika. This is the fourth year of the drive. Bryant said just 250 bookbags were filled year one; this year they are filling 1,000 and giving them out to kids in need. Furthermore, the event, which last from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., offers free haircuts (courtesy of the Boys and Girls Club), games, food and more fun activities.
“Any kids in the local area … outside the local area … that need some bookbags, feel free to come,” Bryant said.
Second, the Dawg Pound is slated to host its first ever tournament in Opelika’s Moore Stadium on July 24 and 25.
“I’m ecstatic,” Bryant said. “This is the first of this type event in the area.”
Bryant’s said he thinks the tournament is a big step toward bringing his vision of youth football in the area to life.
“A lot of people think football is slower down here,” Bryant said. I want to prove that wrong. I see it on a daily basis.”
For age groups 6U, 8U, 9U, 10U and 12U, the 16 participating teams will compete in what Bryant described as a “good opportunity to get some preseason work.” Beginning at 9 a.m., admission is open to the public for just $5. Concessions will be available.
“There has been a lot of hard work behind it,” Bryant said. “It took a lot of reaching out, talking to people and just trying to get believe in the vision I have. We would love for everyone to come out and see the Opelika Dawg Pound players playing for the first time. We would love the support of the community.”
Lastly, The Knee High Foundation is proud to announce their partnership with a new after school program for children ages 5 to 13 at the Opelika Learning Center. The program, initiated by Ward 2 Councilwoman Erica Baker-Norris is set to offer homework help, tutoring, discipline and structure, intensive learning and a focus on core subjects. “It’s going to be kids from our foundation and within the community,” Bryant said. Registration is still open but will end when all slots are filled. The program will begin Aug. 9 and run Monday through Friday, 3 to 6 p.m. Volunteers are still needed. Bryant wanted to personally shout out Alyssa Foreman, Norris and other volunteers for getting the program off the ground. For more information, call 334-744-7751 or email the director at Andreashrumlong@gmail.com.
“In the beginning when we first started four years ago we weren’t thinking about the point we are at now,” Bryant said. “But now that we have gotten the exposure and a lot of the kids are starting to see what we are doing, we are graduating to another phase of things we want to do for the community.”