Harlem Hawks gives inner city youth football a New Meaning
by Kyjah Coryat ( New York, NY)
An iPod is an electronic device that teenagers most of the time use for social networking and listening to music. For 20 year old President Jonathan Gonzalez of the Harlem Hawks, an iPod is more than just a means of curing boredom. With the aid of apps and researching the best way to help young men of the community, he was able to start his team, the Harlem Hawks. You see, President Gonzalez has a full time day job; using apps to do research on an iPod provided a quick and easy method to come up with his idea of creating a football team. Although it is still daylight, the History Channel Advertisement sign is incandescent over the football field. As a first year team, the Harlem Hawks look forward to making history in the future.As the Harlem Hawks continue to warm up, running laps, and stretching, it is quite evident that President Jonathan Gonzalez is passionate about football. He says, “I’ve always wanted to be a coach.” I ask him, What goes through your mind as you see your team warming up? He speaks of his recurring dream. His reverie seemed surreal because it is about the future – the new season. The Harlem Hawks football team is playing their first game, and he is watching proudly from the sideline. In football movies, you usually see coaches screaming at their players and windmilling their arms, but in Gonzalelz’s dream he is just soaking in the moment of seeing his team play. This vision illustrates the confidence that Gonzalez has for his team. He says,“Even though we don’t have as many winning numbers as we would like, I am proud that I have a group of kids dedicated to football.” The Hawks are focused on building endurance and brotherhood.
The group of boys practicing on the field are between the ages of 16 and 18 years old. Most of the boys live in different boroughs and come from low to moderate income households, but are all reaping the benefits of playing football. Pablo Beard wants to travel and make new friends. Kyle Mullings wants to win. Pablo Beard and Kyle Mullings, are resting their arms on the fence. As I come by they quickly get off the fence and stand tall. They know each other well from growing up in the same neighborhood. As a new football team, it takes a while to get to know the other players but this team doesn’t have that problem. The players of this team deal with real life situations that have been dramatized on “Law and Order” everyday. They have an understanding that in order to be better they have to work together as a team. Gonzalez agrees,“I lost a lot of my friends to violence, on this team there’s no ‘your street versus my street,’ it’s just one street.”
“When the kids go under the field lights, they’ll know, what they have to do,” says President Jonathan Gonzalez. Champions do what no one expects them to do, and the Harlem Hawks football team plans to do the unexpected.