Local Football coach creates ‘Respect My Grind’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A local football coach is passing his love of the game to kids in Rochester. He created a nonprofit organization, that will serve as a traveling football team.

James Holmes, says he created this team to support the well-being of kids around Rochester. He says too many young ones have been involved in city violence and he wants to make a difference.

"This is the perfect program for kids who are in the city facing poverty, violence, gun violence, a program like this is dedicated to making a positive impact in the youth,” Holmes said.

This is actually the second season for RMG Elites. The acronym stands for "Respect My Grind." Holmes is known in the community as Coach Diddi. He says he’ll always choose to be a role model for kids, now, more than ever.

"I had a kid tell me I saved his life. I’ve picked up kids in the inner city and in some of the toughest neighborhoods, on our way to practice, and just knowing that their living environments might not be the best,” Holmes said.

The team is looking to recruit 75 players ages 9 to 13 for the 2022 Spring roster. The core focuses for the group are academic support, social/emotional development, and nutritional guidance and training. The program now holds 501c3 status. Holmes is looking for sponsorship to help cover the costs for families who may not be able to afford equipment and travel. Last year the team traveled to play in 4 states, this year they’ll travel to 6.

"I have kids who have never left Monroe County, and last year they traveled to four states with us, and that’s what this is about, making a positive impact on youth, and showing them different things, other than Rochester and that there is more to life than just the streets,” Holmes said.

Holmes said it’s always been his dream to have his own league. He started RMG with change from his own pocket. He says he feels the environment he created can change a child’s life as fast as a football spins.

"That can be vital to changing a kids, everything. One person can make an impact on a child’s life and one person can make a difference.”

Holmes says as the program expands, he wants to add more age groups and eventually cheerleaders, to help the young women in the community too.

"It wasn’t about making money, I don’t make any money off this program, it’s about making a difference. I want to expand this to all ages, that’s my dream. I want to make this program the biggest thing in Rochester,” Holmes added.