|By Kyjah Coryat|
I’ve always taken joy in the simple pleasures of life. The joy of knowing that I have something to do is one that I take pride in the most. The players of the Springfield Rifles football team wake up early every Saturday morning for their 9 am to 12 pm practice. As I approach Roy Wilkins Park in Southern Queens, I see the perfect picture. I love seeing a person who is comfortable in what their wearing. The Springfield Rifles player’s helmets reflect in the light, making them look supernatural and almost mystic. The luminosity not only enhances their appearance but makes them seem confident and ready to scrimmage the Harlem Jets.
The Springfield Rifle’s youth football team is an organization that started in 1976. Mrs. Christabel Spaulding has been the president of the Springfield Rifles for the last ten years. She came to the organization when her eldest son was nine years old and has been there ever since. “When my eldest son wanted to start playing football I told him to stick to baseball, but then I gave him a chance and eventually I learned the game and loved it” says Mrs. Spaulding.
The Springfield Rifles youth football team started out with a goal that most parents seek when they want to get their children involved in something positive to occupy their children’s time and keep them off the streets. They look for an activity that will lead to success both on and off the field.
There are nine youth football teams ranging from 5-16 years old. The Springfield Rifles are not just limited to a youth football team, they have a cheerleading squad as well. The squad started out with (8) girls, and today there are (75) girls on the Springfield Rifles cheerleading team. Mrs. Spaulding says, “They won’t be motivated if they have to
play, it’s something they want to play.” This statement is a reflection of her motherly instincts. With the help of her coaching staff, she makes sure that the children know what their goals are and what they want to achieve from the program. As a result, the cheer team finished twice in the finals held in Florida, and has won five first place awards here in the city. She comments, “We’ve had so many teams that have won! And despite those wins it is still a team effort,” she mentions “without the team you cant do a,b, or c.”
The Springfield Rifles youth football and cheerleading teams know that they are both champions on the field and off. Luckily, most of the coaches are also teachers at prominent schools in the area. Thus, they are able to tell if any of the
young athletes are falling behind in advance, instead of waiting for their report cards.
Sports teaches children characteristics that can help them in any aspect of life, “Sometimes you don’t feel up to smiling but it’s an important life skill you have to have.” These are the mature words of 13 year old Lashae Alexander.
Cheerleading is a team sport just like football. There are no prerequisites to becoming a cheerleader. The squad ranges in ages 8-16. Contrary to popular belief, ‘practice does make perfect’. “All women can gain something from cheerleading and give something.” Lashae Alexander wants to be a doctor when she grows up. She is ambitious and her positive attitude is what makes her an MVP cheerleader.
To succeed in football or cheerleading, a player has to understand the word desire. This word is synonymous with triumph, which can also mean victory, or even achieving a goal at practice. The Springfield Rifles youth football team’s enthusiasm to constantly improve and work hard, results in their winning reputation.