By Tamas Mondovics

With high expectations of its athletes both on and off the field, the Valrico Rams Youth Sports organization is gearing up for its 12th season.

The upcoming year also marks the Rams’ fourth season as a Pop Warner organization, known for requiring its youth football and cheerleading athletes (ages 5-15) to maintain academic standards to participate.

“The commitment to academics is what separates our program from other youth sports in the area,” said John Sherman, community relations officer for the Valrico Rams Youth Sports organization.

Sherman spoke highly of the Rams recent successes, which includes two of the organization’s football teams reaching the playoffs. A pair of the Rams cheerleading teams have also competed at the national level, placing third and fourth in the nation.

Looking ahead to this fall, the Rams, located at 707 S. Miller Rd. in Valrico, are sporting five football teams with nearly 30 coaches and 140 football players on hand including the non-competitive Tiny-Mite team consisting of 5, 6, and 7 year olds who are learning the fundamentals of football, sportsmanship, while getting acclimated to wearing football gear and executing plays.

The Rams competitive Mighty-Mite, Peewee and JR Varsity teams encompassing players from ages 7-13, with a championship always in mind.

“The expectation bar is very high,” said Jr. Peewee Team Coach Duaney Griffin, who has 11 returning players sporting a team motto of “learn about football, have fun doing it, and you will win some games.”

The Rams will again be fielding two competitive cheer teams with about 12 coaches and 100 cheerleaders with the expectations to compete at nationals and win 1st place in the nation for both.

Registration dates for the Rams upcoming season includes Saturday, July 23 and July 24, 11a.m.-2 p.m.

For more information about the Rams, visit www.valricorams.org.