The South Charlotte Recreation Association football league had 180 kids in it last year, and the league is preparing for a much higher enrollment this fall.
In May, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education will vote on a proposal to eliminate middle school sports from the athletic budget, leaving hundreds of south Charlotte athletes without a team.
The South Charlotte Recreation Association, founded in 1970 and offering six sports, hopes it can accommodate the middle school athletes in the area.
"Every organization would love growth," said Abby Lynch, marketing director at SCRA who also works with Charlotte Soccer Academy. "All those kids will need a place to go, so we're trying to make the public aware of their options."
The SCRA offers football, baseball, basketball, cheerleading, softball and soccer in a partnership with the Charlotte Soccer Academy to athletes across south Charlotte, Matthews, Pineville and even some from South Carolina.
Lynch estimated the program had 1,500 families involved, not including 1,000 soccer players, last year.
"That's 1,000 kids in south Charlotte that have something to do," she said. "They're out there being healthy and with their families."
Lynch has a daughter, Alexis, 7, and son, Brandon, 8, who play soccer. She knows the impact sports has on them and said she would hate to see them lose their teams.
"I just know as a parent that when you suddenly have that team you're used to playing on and it's taken away from you, you really feel lost," she said. "I feel like these kids will feel much better and they can form that same bond ... with our organization."
SCRA's first focus is football, which is run under Pop Warner Youth Football.
Barry Hall, who has been coaching football with SCRA for five years and has two sons - Parker, 12, and Bennett, 10 - said football is especially important because there aren't as many recreation leagues that offer it.
"All the other sports are pretty well represented," he said. "Football was kind of the one that had me the most worried because there weren't really as many options out there."
The biggest issue for the football program is equipment and practice space. The teams practice at Olde Providence Elementary or South Charlotte Middle, but Hall recently reached an agreement with Ardrey Kell High to use its field next season.
The coaches, led by Marty Sumichrast, who has coached baseball for six years with SCRA and football for three, have raised money and sponsorships to buy equipment.
Sumichrast, who has two sons - Martin, 10, and Andrew, 9 - said the coaches started raising money several years ago just to improve the program, but when they heard of the possibility of the middle school cuts, they started working harder to prepare.
"We're doing it for the overall community because there's going to be a tremendous need," said Sumichrast.
Hall and Sumichrast said they have been in regular contact with CMS, and if the middle school programs are cut, Hall said, they expect the football equipment from the schools will be auctioned off. SCRA wants to be in a position to buy that equipment.
Cost is also an issue for the football program. This season at CMS middle schools, athletes paid $50 per sport to compete. It would cost a player about $250 to play football for SCRA, which includes equipment and uniforms.
Hall and Sumichrast said they would like to raise enough to offer financial aid to players in need.
"I'd love to raise enough money and do it all for free," said Sumichrast, but they plan on working with families who can't afford the full cost, he said.