West Melbourne Youth Football Rises From Humble Origins

By  //  August 22, 2012

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Tradition Continues Today

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 50th anniversary year of the founding of the Brevard Couunty Youth Football and Cheerleading Association. Throughout the youth football season we’ll be bringing you articles about the history of the organization. Since the 2012 BCYFCA Super Bowl championships games will be played in November at Rodes Park in West Melbourne, here’s a look at how the youth football program in West Melbourne began.        

BREVARD COUNTY • WEST MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – In 1969 when Dick Shanahan was coaching in the Melbourne Midget Football League, Melbourne voted to exclude anyone who did not live within Melbourne city limits from playing in their league.

Members of the 1971 West Melbourne Cowboys gather for a team photo. It was the first-ever youth football team in West Melbourne. (Image courtesy Mary B. Hewitt)

This exclusion left West Melbourne tackle football players without a team.

Tackle football players who have or will play in West Melbourne owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dick Shanahan who recognized the need to provide a team for the city’s youth.

Once Dick decided to form a team of boys ages 10 to 13, fundraising began in earnest.

Coaches’ wives held garage sales. Dick Shanahan, along with other coaches and parents dressed up as cheerleaders and held blanket drops at the intersection of U.S. Highway 192 and Evans Road. They raised $250 in about four horus.

They also had mannequins dressed as Dallas Cowboys were placed at the doors of the current Bank of America on U.S. Highway 192 and Meadowlane Drive with donation buckets on their arms.

These fundraising efforts along with donations from various businessmen from West Melbourne and as far away as North Carolina, raised the $3,000 necessary to get 30 boys in uniform, have printed programs, and a lighted field for the 1971 West Melbourne Cowboys to begin their first season.

Members of the first team included Rodney Mick; Gary Parrish; Kai Blackwell; Derrick Daniels; Al Majaika; Jody Reeves; Keith Kopp; Butch Warden; Howie Whitt; Billy DelBalzo; Billy Taffer; Ricky Screws; Kenny Lutz; Carl Gillis; Darrel Durand; David Langford; Rod Gunther; Charles Buck; Barry Liford; Jim Andrews; Danny Platt; David Adams; Fred Riggs; Randall Richmond; Steve McCaulley; Fred Keeney; Bob Adkins; Jim McGinnis; Gary Holloway; Louis Reese; and Mark Laureigh.

Coaches for that first team were Bill Langford, Norm Kopp and Ray Wells.

The team mascots were Gray Shanahan and Randy Kopp.

As West Melbourne midget football moved into its second year of competition in 1972, two teams represented West Melbourne – the Cowboys and the Colts. The Cowboys were coached by Shanahan and they competed in the Midget Division (13 years and under). The Colts were coached by Frank Smith and they competed in the Mite Division (12 years and under).

The 1972 Cowboys and Colts featured 30 hardworking, dedicated, well-equipped players on each team. But they suffered from lack of experience. Neither records were good, but the determined players looked forward to next year.

The 1973 edition of the Cowboys, now coached by Tom Carroway, and the Colts, now coached by Bill Langford, with more experience, showed substantial improvement. The Colts finished with the first winning record (5-3-2) for a West Melbourne tackle football team.

The 1974 Cowboys and Colts continued to improve with Coach Carroway’s Cowboys going 8-2 and Coach Langford’s Colts going 7-3.

The 1975 Cowboys saw West Melbourne midget football reach the pinnacle in its 5th year of existence when the Cowboys, under Coach Carroway, went to 10-0 to wind the Midget Division Championship over perennial winner, Indian Harbour Beach, and the Colts, under Coach Langford, registered their third consecutive winning season.

Thanks to the foresight of Dick Shanahan, his coaches and that first team of 30 young inexperienced boys from West Melbourne, the tradition continues its proud heritage today.

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