By Kyjah Coryat
A block away from Montbellier Park, boys in navy blue pants and white shirts are parading down the sidewalk like seagulls sizing up their meals at a beach broad-walk area abandoned by the usual human traffic. Anxious and energetic, the flock of boys are oblivious to the playground adjacent to the field, and to anything else for that matter because they are all there to practice. What exactly are these boys involved in and who are they? The boys with the razor sharp eyes and strong build are those of the Eagles Academy football team.
There are no middle school football leagues in New York. The Eagles Academy football team is ran by Head coach Brian Ellis and Assistant coach Phillip Orgill. Head Coach Brian Ellis, who graduated from and played for the University of Massachusetts, wants to give back to his community through this program. Ellis says, “Why should our kids be behind the 8-ball when they get to high-school? They should know the game….here is their head start.” The Eagles Academy football team is a first year team that credits Big Apple Youth Sports for their help with the formation of this squad. New York is coined as a “basketball state.” Yet tons of great football athletes come out of New York. However, preparation must start early.
Academics make them eligible to play. It shows them responsibility, and makes them scared to get in trouble,” Head Coach Brian Ellis insists. New York is not considered a football state for many reasons – like not having year round football teams and limitations due to weather. When Ellis went to UMass he became immersed in different cultures of football. Football is taught differently in the south than it is in north. In the south, football is run on one system where the elementary, middle-school, and high-school all have the same playbook. He says on the matter that, “Our football is light years behind because we do not have a system like the teams in the south do.” Youth football teams are vulnerable not just because of their age, but for their mental capacity, size, and overall awareness. The strategy that Ellis is harnessing will make a catastrophic impact on our children’s minds. He is establishing real world concepts, and thereby preparing them for the future.
For Jheydan Sombers (whole line and defensive line), Christopher Gayle (wide receiver/quarterback), and Menelik Johnson (center line, middle line, and kicker), football is therapeutic – a legal way to release their anger. All three boys are twelve years old and are in the 7th grade. Although they enjoy playing football they are also involved in other sports. Christopher Gayle has been playing football for two years but he has been playing baseball for 10 years. Each sport respectively builds an individuals strength while utilizing teamwork. Menelik Johnson says, “you need a team to play football, you can’t do it by yourself.” Jheydan Sobers agrees. His favorite game is his first; the Eagles won the game 33-0. Head coach, Brian Ellis adds that, ”we play the way we practice.” This consciousness works on and off the field. Menelik Johnson has been on the honor roll and the dean’s list several times. All three boys chose math as their favorite subject. They don’t think name brands matter, and they like their uniform color because it’s simple. Football is a sport that requires heart, and these young athletes definitely have the right focus to achieve great success on the field and off.