In 2007 both Marcus Henderson and Theo Perry graduated from Southern Vance High School and Perry was a part of the Southern Vance Football team that went to the state championship game. While the Raiders were unable to cap off that season with a state title, both Henderson and Perry have continued to work in football and with youth. With the help of fellow Southern Vance alumni and others such as former Vance County High School Athletic Director Joe Sharrow, Henderson and Perry started the Vance County Venom. The Venom are a 7-on-7 football team that plays in a five-team league during the summer to help keep youth from not only Vance County, but Franklin and Warren as well, off the street and involved with something positive in the way of athletics.
Theo Perry serves as head coach and director of the Venom and Marcus Henderson is an organizer. The Venom are a 501c3 non-profit organization and they hope to provide mentorship to young people and to provide them with guidance as they grow as young men and athletes. As coaches, they try to be positive role models, Perry said. “We want to teach them how to be great human beings and to stay out of the streets,” he said.
“The street loves nobody,” Perry said on Tuesday’s SportsTalk. Henderson says “there are too many distraction for kids” out of school during the summer and the Venom provides kids with an opportunity to do something else to positively impact their lives.
The idea for the Venom came from coaching the Tri-City Seahawks at the Henderson-Vance Recreation and Parks Dept. The Seahawks participate in the East Wake League and kids start playing at four years of age. From the Seahawks the idea of the Venom emerged. Sharrow and Vance County High School Principal Rey Horner agreed to let them use the practice field at the high school and parents helped contribute equipment and fund to buy equipment. And Perry and Henderson chipped in money from their own pockets to field the team, too.
Richard Terry of Eastside Barber in Henderson donated a quarterback tee, which Perry said has proven quite useful. In 7-on-7 football, the QB has five seconds to throw the ball. The tee is equipped with a timer, which has helped the quarterbacks improve their ball release.
Turnout from kids has been excellent and they have played games throughout the month of May in Franklinton; they’ll travel to Fuquay-Varina for a make-up tournament this weekend. Additionally, the kids involved with the Venom have had the opportunity to attend football camps with NFL players. Perry said he tells his guys to wear their jerseys to the camps – it’s just one more way to get their name out there. “We’ve gotten so much exposure,” he said. “Exposure is the key – when it’s time for these kids to go to college…you never know who’s out there watching them at an early age.”
“It’s bigger than football,” says Henderson. These young athletes also participate in volunteer work and reach out to the community. Perry says they want to teach how to become correct young men. They both praise the parents who have taken time to bring their kids to practice and games and have supported the Venom in general.
If you would like to help support the Venom, donations can be made to Vance Co. Venom Inc. The mailing address is 1025 Pinkston St., Henderson NC 27537 or via cashapp at $flySantana.