Roanoke youth football team rates best in the nation

 By Shawn Nowlin

Head coach Joseph Mesadieu (center) with his Powerhouse 540 Hawks.

A local youth football team recently earned the most prestigious honor only reserved for the very best. Consisting of nearly two dozen players ages 12 and younger from all over the Star City, the Powerhouse 540 Hawks won the Division II American Youth Football National Championship in Florida on Dec. 9. 

Because many of the athletes have played together for years, they displayed a  second-to-none togetherness and mental toughness in the championship game, overpowering their Bulldog University opponents in the second half. To commemorate their victory, every player and coach received a national championship ring.

The difference between any team achieving their ultimate goal and falling just short explained Head Coach Joseph Mesadieu often comes down to the little things.

Asked to put into context what he just accomplished, Mesadieu, 33,  said, “One thing I always preach is ‘enjoy the journey.’ Last year we went to nationals but placed fourth. Our players were disappointed, but I told them they will have another opportunity to create a different outcome. Our team is similar to a puzzle. Regardless of how big or small the contribution, without every ounce of effort, our puzzle is not complete.”

Giving maximum effort every single day is all Mesadieu requires of his players. During the first team practice in August, he told his young athletes and coaching staff that if everyone buys in, they have a chance to make history. Over the next four months, they all put their egos aside and focused on their primary objective. The practice was initially held at Villa Heights Park before transitioning to Westside Elementary School in November.

Without the support of dedicated family members and community residents, the Powerhouse 540 Hawks would not be national champions today. In addition to parents making sure that players have reliable transportation to and from practice, various other acts were also done throughout the year too, such as fundraisers. When the team returned on Dec. 11, they were overwhelmed with love and celebratory energy from the community. So much so that they had to be escorted by police when they got off the plane. 

“Trina Henderson, our team mom, does everything non-football related, which allows us coaches to focus on the play on the field,” Mesadieu said. “She is just one of many in the community who selflessly gave their labor, money, and time this year. Everyone pitching in made all the difference in the world.”

The lessons Mesadieu and his staff have taught the players will bode well for them later in life. More important to a coach than winning championships is preparing his players for what awaits them in high school and the next chapter in their lives after that.

“Our work doesn’t end once the football season is over. We are invested in these kids all year round,” he said. “Our kids have the potential to exceed even their wildest imaginations in life if they put in the necessary work. I’m excited to see what the future holds for all of them.”