Since its founding 50 years ago, the Atlanta Colt Youth Association has impacted the lives of hundreds of people, from parents to players to coaches.
Many individuals played during their childhood and ended up coaching their own sons years later; the same for cheerleading. Many more find themselves in different positions of leadership within the ACYA, long after their children have moved on to different sports, high school, or even college.
John Forte is a prime example. After coaching his oldest son, Forte served as a coach for the travel team, a League Director, and an organier for the team’s yearly evaluations and tryouts. Currently, he serves on the executive committee as the athletic director.
Darryl Price began much the same; both of his children were Colts, a fourth grade football player and a second grade cheerleader.
Shortly after his children joined, Price himself joined the ACYA board of directors. He ended up serving as president for two years and treasurer for one.
Doug Bennett began volunteering as a coach while in college and didn’t stop for 11 years.
J. Max Davis has a longer story, however. He himself became an Atlanta Colt, along with his brother and sister, when he was seven years old and played until he was too old to do so. After becoming a father himself, he took his children down to Murphey Candler and signed them up for the Atlanta Colts; he served as a coach for one year and an assistant coach for several others, along with serving on the board of directors.
“Having a safe and fun opportunity for my children to experience what I experienced was my main goal,” Davis said. “I feel like I’m reliving my childhood every time I’m down there!” From the annual bonfire to various charity events, Davis has numerous memories that he holds dear. “I’m proud that when I was mayor of Brookhaven we were able to renovate the stadium. It was important to me to preserve that for future generations.”
Price, at the height of his involvement, found himself at Murphey Candler around five days a week.
“I have a lot of great memories of the Colts. During the homecoming festivities in 2007, a man and his wife introduced themselves to me. He had been Treasurer of the ACYA in 1968. He wanted to tell me how much the park had meant to him and his children and how happy he was to see the program continue,” Price said. “He gave me an ACYA booklet that contained the by-laws, a listing of the Board of Directors, and the budget from 1968. It meant so much to him that he saved it in pristine condition all those years and he wanted the organization to have it back. That just shows me the positive impact that participating in a youth sports program as a family can have on your life.”
Bennett agrees. “My favorite memories are the successes we had and the joy that we brought to the players and their families.”
It comes up time and time again; the coaches, parents, Board – they participate for the good of the children. “I can’t say enough about the many volunteers that work countless hours to help ensure the ACYA provides its participating families with the best youth athletic program possible,” said Price.
“The character, determination, fitness – the total experience that is offered to the children is my favorite thing about the Atlanta Colts Youth Association,” said Davis. Forte expressed much the same, crediting both the families and the volunteers as the most valuable part of ACYA. As a completely volunteer-based organization, the ACYA depends on the community to help support the team and provide an invaluable experience to both the football players and the cheerleaders.
“My favorite thing has to be the gratitude I feel when I hear from or meet up with the kids that played on our teams, most who are over 50 years old, and they thank me for helping them. I get to hear about their lives, families, and successes; many of our alumni are now successful professionals, doctors, lawyers, and businessmen,” said Bennett.
A community organization that has positively impacted lives for more than 50 years, the Atlanta Colt Youth Association is still going strong and, with the help of volunteers and dedicated professionals, will continue to do so.