Racine Raiders Football Club | Racine, Wis. |

Raiders Banquet Closes the Book on 2016

The Racine Raiders held their annual year-end banquet on Saturday, January 14, at the Racine Roma Lodge.

It was a night of celebration as coaches, players, and volunteers all came together to revisit memories made during the 2016 season. There was a handful of awards given out during the event such as Volunteer of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, and Most Valuable Player awards for various positions on every side of the ball.

Racine Mayor John DickertRacine Mayor John Dickert started off the ceremonies with a speech recognizing the great work the Raiders organization does every year. Dickert talked about how mayors from all across the country tell him “how lucky he is to have an organization like the Raiders.” The mayor then went on to talk about just how important the Raiders are to the City of Racine.

“You guys are all a part of history,” said Dickert. “The Raiders are more important than you could ever imagine.”

Showing appreciation and love towards the football club was a common theme displayed all night long. All staff from the top down was met with a round of applause when individually announced. Raiders president Matt Nelson went on to say, “Opposing teams are always in amazement of the entire organization when they come to play us. You guys are the envy of every team in the country.”

Tori Simon receives the Volunteer of the Year Award.Volunteers are a huge part of what the Raiders are able to do and the night was as much for them, as it was for the players and coaches. Many were honored Saturday night with awards for their work with the team on game days and off the field as well.

The Volunteer of the Year award was split up and went to two separate winners. Jim Hernandez and Tori Simon were both winners of the award this year. Hernandez, who has been with the organization for 39 years, was a part of the concessions staff last season but in his many years he has held many other duties. Hernandez was excited to win the award and is ready to get the season started.

“I’m coming back for 39 more,” exclaimed Hernandez.

Community Service AwardsHead coach Wilbert Kennedy and the rest of his coaching staff gave out MVP awards to offensive, defensive, and special teams players throughout the ceremony. Kennedy gave out the captains awards to running back J.R. Taylor, receiver Myles Spiegel, linebacker Deveron Davis, defensive back DiQuan McRae, defensive lineman Brandon Rogers, and offensive linemen Ryan Gails and Josh Willis.

The Offensive Player of the Year award went to wide receiver Terrance Fitch, while the award for Defensive Player of the Year went to linebacker Deveron Davis. This year’s Lifetime Achievement award winner, Defensive Coordinator Chris Pivovar, gave high praise to Davis, saying “nobody had the instincts like Deveron Davis.”

Overall Team MVP went to Taylor. Taylor was a huge source of energy for the Raiders all season long and helped the team set the tone during games with his physicality.

Coach Kennedy said, “The decision was very tough. There was so many great players we had this year.”

Defensive coordinator Chris Pivovar receives the Lifetime Achievement Award.The night was capped off with the handing out of the Raiders Lifetime Achievement award. As mentioned, that award went to long-time member of the organization and defensive coordinator Chris Pivovar.

“Chris set the standard for what it meant to be a Raider,” said Coach Kennedy, a long-time friend of Pivovar.

Pivovar, who earlier announced his retirement from the team, was very grateful for the award and thought back to all the Raiders have given him.

“The games we played were great, but all of that is secondary to the relationships you build,” said Pivovar.

Ron Schumann, one of the members of the video crew for the Raiders also received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Schumann was responsible for taping and burning VHS and DVD videos of games for many years. He still serves on the video team.

Coach Kennedy also announced a few coaching changes for this upcoming season. Pivovar announced at the banquet that he will be retiring after many years with the Raiders. Former Raiders linebacker and linebackers coach Pete Deates will take over that role for the 2017 season. Another former Raiders linebacker, Nate Harris, will take over as linebacker coach and Dusty Svendsen will become the new offensive line coach for the 2017 campaign.