We will be holding player sign-ups at Di Bella’s Restaurant on Lucas Ave. in Kingston on FEB. 3 from 1pm-3pm. We will be discussing new league changes for the upcoming 2018 season, sponsorship packages, player fees and the new direction that the H.V. Bucs organization is heading this season. Food and drinks will be available… so come sign-up and be a part of something great in our route to a championship trophy!
We will soon begin weekly workouts at Dietz Stadium in April, one night a week. Day and time will be announced as soon as possible.
Our second tryouts for the Hudson Valley Buccaneers upcoming 2017 season are on Wednesday, February 22 from 8-10pm at the MAC (across from Honda on 9W) in Kingston, NY. Our first tryout date had a great turn-out and we are looking forward to even more at our second tryout. There is a $50 non-refundable fee that will go towards your registration if you make the team roster. All new and returning players registration fees are $200. We are looking for players to fill spots in all positions.
By Eric Houghtaling, Daily Freeman
KINGSTON >> Summer minor league football is about to make a return to the area when the Hudson Valley Buccaneers kick off their inaugural season in July.
Lennard Byrd, a veteran of some of the past teams that played at Dietz Stadium, is the owner of the franchise which will play 10 games in the newly-formed World Football Federation.
Byrd, a standout wide receiver and kick return specialist at Kingston High and the University of Maine, is hoping his enthusiasm and dedication to the sport will lend itself to success for the Bucs.
“I’ve been working hard on getting this together since last November,” Byrd said. “We’ve received lots of support, especially from businesses in the community. They know who I am and that I am dedicated to making this work.”
The Buccaneers will be the first team to play at this level since the Hudson Valley Highlanders/Tri-County Tigers went out of existence in 2009.
Byrd said it has sometimes been a difficult sell after former Hudson Valley Saints owner Mark English was charged with stealing tens of thousands of dollars from investors from 2005-07.
“Sponsors have been a little cautious, but I think knowing me personally has helped,” Byrd said. “There are a lot of bad feelings after what he (English) did and people want to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again. We are also trying to separate from being called semi-pro.”
Businesses like Herzog’s, Adams Fairacre Farms, Rhinebeck Ford, Essential Fitness, Murphy Realty, Timely Signs, Signature Fitness, Anaconda Sports, Joe Beez Famous Sandwiches and JK’s Wine & Liquor are already in the fold as sponsors.
Byrd, who had a tryout with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent back in 2002, has continued to play football, most recently with the Western Mass Blitzin Bears and the Hudson Valley Cowboys.
Now, he hopes to make the transition to ownership, following in the footsteps of former Blitzin Bears owner and WFF commissioner Eric Brown.
“I played on Eric’s team the past few years and he’s been a big help,” Byrd said. “He said the league will support us 100 percent, and the hope is that we can make a pitch to the NFL to become a developmental league. I still have ties to people in the NFL and some of my college teammates, too.”
Byrd said he had about 30 players, some former players of the defunct local teams, at an organizational meeting back in December.
The team is holding a practice and tryout session at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Dietz for any interested players.
“I was kind of surprised by the response, but it’s great,” Byrd said. “We will take anyone that is interested and has football experience. You can never have enough healthy players.”
Hudson Valley will play in one of the four divisions in the WFF and will take on teams located in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Games will be played on Saturdays at 6 p.m.
The Central Penn Piranha, one of the winningest teams in minor league football history, has signed on to play in the league.
“I think it’s going to be a league that will be fun,” Byrd said.
“They have a lot of technical advances, like live-streaming, and a pre and post-game show with highlights, lots of top-notch production. It could almost be like a reality show.”
Byrd said another component he plans to put in place with the team is support for local youth programs.
“Eric does a lot in the Springfield area for kids, especially with non-profit organizations,” he said.
“We will do the same thing here, trying to give back to the community and help out kids in need. Kids under 12 are going to get in for free and we’re doing what we can to keep ticket prices down (probably $8) to make it affordable, but still a viable business.”
Creating an atmosphere that rivals college football is another way that Byrd hopes to attract spectators.
He said the team will offer tailgate options two hours before games in the basketball court area for VIP ticket holders, and he hopes to have local entertainers on hand before, during and after games.
“Like I said, our focus is on the local community, bringing in players that people are familiar with and doing good things for the community,” he said. “Our guys will reach out and contribute off the field. It’s the only way to be successful.”
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