FORSYTH, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - A new middle Georgia traveling football and cheerleading squad starts its first season on Saturday.
The Mid Georgia Thundering Herd is based in Monroe County and will play other teams from the metro-Atlanta area this fall.
Most football organizations emphasize hard work on the football field. The Mid Georgia Thundering Herd is no exception to that rule, but this program adds another aspect.
"Our focus is basically to work on academics before athletics," says vice president of the organization, Julius Stroud III. "Fortunately in Monroe County, we have two good programs. We have the Monroe County Recreation Department and the Mid Georgia Thundering Herd. Both of our focuses are academics, then athletics."
"It goes to my heart," says runningback Jordan Stroud. "First, you have to get good grades to go to college. In college, you have to make good grades in order to make it to the NFL."
The Herd is set to play its first season in the Georgia Extreme Youth Football League with a team made up of 11 and 12-year-olds.
"It's a brand new program," says president of the organization, Jeff Dean. "We were hoping to have all four age groups. We didn't make that, but that's OK. We still have one age group and that's our eleven and twelves, and we'll travel with them."
On the flip side, the Herd's traveling cheer squad will also take the field for the first time this fall.
"This is something we haven't done before in Monroe County," says cheer director Leighanne Mitchell. "It's brand new to us, and it gives the girls an opportunity to see other cheerleaders, other styles of cheering, and competition cheer they might not get anywhere except for going to another town."
"I think it's exciting going to a different place, and I've never really done cheerleading," says cheerleader Madison Hammersley. "This is actually my first year, except for when I was like five, but I love being on the Herd."
Although it's a long time from now, the coaches of both the football and cheer squads have already started preparing these kids for the future.
"Our goal, basically, is to use football as a tool to get young men and women into college," says (Julius) Stroud. "If we have to use football to attain that goal, then that's what we do."
If you listen closely to the group break it down after practice, you can tell they're already thinking like adults.
"We're not gonna sound like little children," says (Jordan) Stroud. "We're gonna sound like the Thundering Herd."
The Herd will play its first game on Saturday at 2 at Atlanta's Gresham Park against a team sponsored by former NFL star Deion Sanders called 'Truth Atlanta'.
For more information on the organization, visit their website or check them out on Facebook.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Kris Medlen pitched seven shutout innings in his latest winning performance and Martin Prado's two-run double proved decisive to help the Braves end a four-game losing streak with a 5-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.
Medlen (5-1) allowed seven hits while striking out seven and walking one in his fifth start of the season. The Braves have won 16 consecutive starts behind the right-hander dating back to May 2010.
More importantly, Atlanta salvaged the three-game divisional series and halted the Nationals three-game winning streak. The Braves, who entered the day atop the National League wild card chase, moved within six games of the NL East leading Nationals.
Ross Detwiler (7-6) pitched 5 1-3 innings, allowing two runs and seven hits with four strikeouts and one walk.