A member of the Ceres Cowboys Youth Football & Cheer Organization since 2006, Maribel Gutierrez will take on a new challenge this season.
"(President) John Thompson decided to take a break," said Gutierrez, former vice president and cheer coach. "I decided to step in and fill his role. He still helps me out. Any time I have questions, I call him. It's not as easy as everyone thinks. There's a lot of paperwork and other stuff. The most challenging part is trying to get our name out there and recruiting more kids. We're trying to involve the families more."
Ceres' membership consists of 95 football players and 19 cheerleaders, aged 6-14.
"I'm happy with the numbers we got," she said. "Every day, I keep having to add people."
The Cowboys waived the registration fee for 20 of their players.
"We know a lot of kids want to play but can't afford to play," Gutierrez said. "We're just having them pay $35 for their jerseys. We've done a lot of sponsoring this year. It's very important to make sure the kids feel wanted. They're going to be a part of something."
Ceres' head football coaches are Paul Thompson (varsity), Jonathan Ballard (junior varsity), Langston Kennedy Sr. (novice) and Langston Kennedy II (junior novice).
The Cowboys' head cheer coaches are Marissa Feliciano (varsity), Sabrina Cota (junior varsity), Katie Campusano (novice) and Jennifer Fry (junior novice).
"We treat everyone like family," Gutierrez said. "We have coaches that are willing to help out the kids if they need tutoring. They're mentors."
Ceres competes in the Delta Youth Football League.
The Cowboys will face the South Stockton Vikings (Aug. 26), North Stockton Bengals (Sept. 2), Chavez Jr. Titans (Sept. 9), North West Trojans (Sept. 16), Tracy Cougars (Sept. 24), Dublin Fighting Irish (Sept. 30), Tracy Raiders (Oct. 7), Manteca Jaguars (Oct. 14), Lathrop Jr. Spartans (Oct. 21) and Modesto Empire Vikings (Oct. 28) during the regular season.
Ceres practices Monday through Friday, from 6-8 p.m., at Mae Hensley Jr. High.
The Cowboys will kick off their 37th season of competition at Central Valley High School versus the South Stockton Vikings.
Varsity, junior varsity, novice and junior novice play at 4 p.m., 2 p.m., 12 p.m. and 10 a.m., respectively.
Eric Gutierrez, Maribel's son, plays football at the novice level.
"I've been with the Cowboys since 2006," she said. "I love the organization. I hope it stays around for a long time."