by Kyjah Coryat
There are hundreds of notable basketball courts around New York City, but have you ever seen more than one football field. Under the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge on Randall’s Island field 90, practicing for their upcoming season of football are the Harlem Jets. It is unusually quiet for a field located directly under a bridge during rush hour. The city view is breath-taking but, that does not distract the Harlem Jets from starting their practice.The boys arrive from pubic transportation (which contrary to popular belief is very fast), parent chauffeurs, and from a school bus driven by President of the Harlem Jets Inc., Jamel Wright Sr. The Harlem Jets football team is a six division team and a lot of the success of the Harlem Jets is accredited to volunteers and parents; but to Jamel Wright Sr,“football is as important as breathing”.
As an inner city youth football group, there are a few misconceptions that can be made. Football players are not “dumb jocks”. “ Those days of allowing guys to get away with not performing well in school are way over because guys realize that people are losing jobs, its competitive”, says Wright Sr. Historically football has been a suburban sport but recently there has been a surge and interest that can not be ignored in the New York metropolitan area. The Harlem Jets are dedicated to helping their players becoming successful athletes and scholars. The athletic summer camp session is heavily structured around academics. Not your usual summer camp, right? From 9-12 the players focus on academics and after lunch they engage in rigorous conditioning exercises. James Richardson, Timothy Jones, and Jamel Wright Jr. graduates of the Harlem Jets football team and now in high-school, all agree that football is a discipline; it motivates you to do well, on and off the football field.
At the Harlem Jets spring banquet, almost 400 trophies were given out. President Jamel Wright makes sure that each boy walks out of the banquet with at least two trophies. One is a participation trophy and the other is for whatever improvement or achievement the player has accomplished within the year. A huge part of football is self-confidence. Self confidence can be hard for anyone whether it’s the team leader, or the “new kid”. Wright Sr. assures that kids change from being role players, to kids that want to play, and want to be apart of a team.
Although football can be looked upon as both an individual and team sport, Wright Sr. mentions, “football can make you a better individual as well as team player; but football is the ultimate team sport”. Football is a sport where an individual can have many achievements; this is true, but those individuals could not have reached that point without the help of their teammates. So, move over basketball, football is not only for the suburbs.
Profile on Sean Cousin MVP
Sean Cousin is 10 years old, has greenish-brown eyes, and is 4’11. As I walked over to the cadet team (10 years) to see the drills they were practicing, I see Sean encouraging his teammates during their break, “Let’s go”, he says while clapping. He subconsciously checks his helmet, looks up, and goes back to running the drill again. Sean wants to play professional football in the NFL and his favorite player is Michael Vick. He is aware that although his favorite sock color is white they get dirty easily. “The dirt looks cool”, says Cousin. The dirt also symbolizes how hard he is willing to work to reach his goal. Sean Cousin has been playing football for five years. Not only has he been the recipient of the MVP award several times but he has also won the best offense award. It is obvious that this young man is committed to football. “Football is fun, it’s life”, says Cousin smiling. From his smile, I know that he meant what he said.