Commitment, fortitude, teamwork, discipline, respect. To be a Southside Raider, you must carry yourself, both on and off the field, in a way that is in line with the principles that the program was built on.The values that young people learn from the Southside Raiders football program has had a positive impact on the Madison community for more than four decades.
“It’s more than just about football …. it’s about life,” Southside Raiders head football coach Wayne Strong tells Madison365. “It’s about preparing kids for life … teaching them how to deal with adversity and teaching them how to deal with conflict. It’s about stressing the importance of education and staying in school and [staying] out of trouble. If they do, they will be successful in life. That’s really our goal here.”
Founded by Will Boyd Smith, the Raiders just started their 45th year of molding young men on Madison’s south side. They are all about those core values, but make no mistake about it: They are also very much about football. The Southside Raiders are always a team to be reckoned with and they have produced some incredible athletic talent including St. Louis Rams wide receiver Derek Stanley, former NBA guard Reece Gaines, and former Wisconsin Badger linebacker Jeff Mack, to name a few.
The Raiders have five teams grades 4-8 that play seven games a year in the Dane County Area Youth Football League. The Southside Raider cheerleading program has girls from grades 3-8. Most players live not too far from Penn Park, but some come from as far away as Verona and Sun Prairie, partially due to the Raiders’ low participation fee.