Bensley is the oldest settled community in Chester. Lying in the Meadowbrook High School district, Bensley is a quickly growing area of the county where there has been a need for a heightened sense of community. Through the work of Meadowbrook football assistant coach Jimmie Rogers, Paul Wilmot of Chesterfield Parks and Recreation and former Bermuda Supervisor Sherman Litton, Bensley’s youth sports are back.
“Thus far it’s been a source of smiles and happiness on the kids faces,” said Rogers. “They haven’t had sports in a long time and seem proud to wear the Bensley colors.”
Bensley Athletic Association was founded in the 1950s by John Harrison and Ray Hevener. After going defunct in 2000, area children didn’t have the football, basketball, baseball, soccer and cheerleading programs that were once offered.
Rogers stated that his studying of social work at Virginia State inspired him to help revitalize the program. One major hurdle was cost – as some associations charge $140 to play a sport. Through working with Litton and Wilmot, the cost is just $30 for a child to participate.
“We’re not going to turn away any child who wants to play sports,” Rogers stated.
Basketball kicked off for the association in January, and to jump start the program, Rogers used his coaching stipend from Meadowbrook to purchase jerseys for the children playing.
Former players of Bensley sports stepped up and volunteered to be coaches, including Thomas Dale class of 2007 athletic standout Howard Spence, who played in the association growing up. His son, six-year-old Keyon, plays basketball.
“I feel like it’s come full circle,” stated Rogers. “Someone I coached in association ball has a son playing association ball – I wasn’t sure if I’d see that happen.”
Though the Bensley area has its social issues, youth sports in the community can provide structure for children, and also allow them opportunities to build relationships in the community. Sports provide competition, and also provide youth with something to strive for in sportsmanship and victory. There are plans to offer baseball, soccer, cheerleading and eventually football.
“It’s great for the community in every way,” said Rogers. “It will give the youth in the community a sense of pride.”
Additionally, this will further develop athletes that will eventually attend Meadowbrook High, potentially strengthening their already competitive football and basketball programs and possibly helping to rebuild their spring sports programs long term.
Bensley Athletic Association welcomes your assistance through volunteering, coaching, donations and more. Businesses can sponsor teams, and anyone can sponsor a child to play sports. For information on the association, to volunteer or donate contact Jimmie Rogers at 804-382-3565.