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Brooke Point head coach Dwight Hazelwood (left) and Aviance Young pose for a photo. Young joined Brooke Point's staff last season as the Black-Hawks' defensive backs coach. (Photo by Jamar Billingsley)

From Pee Wee to preps, football coaches move up the ranks

by | May 17, 2024 | ALLFFP, High school sports, Sports

Aviance Young and Joe Lackey were longtime coaches in the American Youth Football League before assuming their roles on the high school sidelines in 2023.

Both coaches are credited by community members with impacting Fredericksburg area youth, with Young founding the Virginia Stafford Knights, alongside his wife Celeste in 2016, and Lackey establishing the Virginia Jaguars three years later.

Young has dedicated the past 16 years to coaching youth football in the area. His journey began in 2008 when he registered his younger brother, whom he was raising, for a youth league.

Young briefly coached in a passing league at Virginia State University in the mid-2000s, but it was youth football that provided him with the consistent mentoring opportunity he desired.

“Watching the kids develop in life and football over the years is the best feeling for me,” Young said.

Young instills in his players that failure is not an option. He works to develop that mindset in the youth he helps educate on the field and in the classroom at Brooke Point High School in Stafford County, where he is an assistant coach and English teacher.

After high school coaches volunteered to work with the Knights, they were impressed with Young’s coaching skills and his ability to connect with the youth. They mentioned the possibility of Young ascending to the varsity level.

However, for Young, the timing had to be right.

Everything lined up at Brooke Point.

Head coach Dwight Hazelwood said he pursued Young because of his qualities both as a coach and a person. Brooke Point’s players who grew up under Young’s tutelage highly recommended him, so Young joined the Black-Hawks’ staff as the defensive backs coach last season.

In an era of frequent, flippant transfers, he offers Brooke Point’s program a tangible connection to its roots at the youth level.

“I am very pleased about how things are going,” Young said. “Everything has come full circle as far as me becoming an educator and a high school football coach in the county.”

Just 22 miles south in Spotsylvania, Joe Lackey made his high school coaching debut last season. J.C. Hall, the varsity head coach at Courtland High School, said he seeks individuals with high character and quality coaching abilities for his staff, and Lackey fit the bill perfectly.

Hall assigned Lackey to coach defensive backs and defensive ends. Hall said Lackey demonstrated a willingness to learn, contribute ideas, and go above and beyond.

“Not to mention, Joe is popular in the community, and the kids love him,” Hall added.

Joe Lackey (left) helped found the Virginia Jaguars youth football program before joining J.C. Hall’s staff at Courtland High School last season. (Photo by Jamar Billingsley)

Lackey’s coaching journey began 12 years ago with his son’s youth football team. He said it’s been gratifying to watch the development of the youth he guided as they matriculate to their neighborhood high school.

“The coaching experience has been immensely satisfying,” Lackey said. “I’ve witnessed kids go on to play at the Division I, II and III levels, and many have become successful business professionals.”

Lackey takes great pride in being a father figure to many young athletes. Numerous Jaguars have had memorable experiences such as playing in the postseason in Orlando, Florida and taking the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

As Lackey’s son aged out of youth football, his desire to become a high school coach intensified. Initially focused solely on his youth organization, Lackey eventually accepted Hall’s offer.

“I should have considered high school coaching earlier,” Lackey said. “We are one big happy family here at Courtland.”

For Young and Lackey, the highlight of their promotion to the high school level is growing alongside the young men they helped to develop from an early age.

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