By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
The Hyde Park Junior Spartan Youth Football League All American team traveled to Tampa, Fla. this weekend to compete in the Youth Football League National Championships.
The team, which had a record of 10-1 this year, was recently named the Chicago Southtown Champions. This week the team will play against junior league teams from across the country for the national championship title.
Hyde Park Jr. Spartans was founded in 2010 by Howard Griffith , retired Denver Broncos star with two Super Bowl rings who is now president of the team. The team has about 26 -13 and 14 year old boys, 23 members of the team went to nationals. The Spartans home field is at Hales Franciscan High School, 4930 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
The team was lead to victory this year by head coach Foster Williams, who previously coached youth football teams in Jackson Park for six years before joining the Hyde Park Junior Spartans.
Williams said that he has increased the level of focus and intensity of the training in order to be ready for the national competition.
“The games in Florida will be more up tempo and the boys will be in the spotlight,” Williams said. “At our practices I made sure they were more attentive no talking, no playing around and we worked on new offense strategies and added more defense.”
He said another focus preparation tool included booking reservations at a hotel away from the stadium and tournament activities.
Williams said he has his sight on winning and bringing home the championship trophy but he also wants to help produce a community of responsible young men.
Williams, coach Chick Hose and the other coaches on the team seek out the young boys with talent that hang around the neighborhood and talk to their parents about having them join the team. Each coach on the team is a husband and a father and they act as role models and mentors to the team.
“It’s important for adolescents to stay active especially boys because they have high levels of energy and testosterone,” Williams said. “We try to show them that they don’t have time for girls or gang banging and that they should use their time and energy to be a part of something that is important.”
Hose said the coaches try to show the team how the values they learn playing football can also relate to other areas of their lives.
“With everything there are peaks and valleys,” Hose said. “When things are going great celebrate, when things are not going so great be sure to get the lesson.”
The coaches said they were very proud of the boys on the team for making it to nationals and even more importantly for the life choices they have made.
“The hard work that took place during the summertime is now coming to fruition,” Hose said. “I like that they get to see the results of all the hard work they put in.”
Williams said, “I am so proud that they were really dedicated and accomplished something positive. If they really want to make me proud they will be good students, sons and role models.”
For more information on how to enroll or donate to the Hyde Park Junior Spartan youth football league, visit hpjrspartans.com.