LITTLE ROCK, Ark (THV11): Sports are great for a lot of reasons. At the middle school age, the can close gaps in children’s lives. That’s why it was sad when 9 years ago the Little Rock School District cut 6th grade football due to funding.
Today, things are looking up. The Little Rock community has come together to bring back football to 6th graders in hopes that relationships build through the game may close the gap on teenage violence.
Let's first start with Fitz Hill, a man who’s life was shaped by the presence of a mentor.
Also a man who had some questions.
"Who do our youth look up to when there is no one positive to look up to?" He asked.
When the answer was we don’t know, his response was action in the form of raising about 200,000 dollars and bringing back football to 6th graders.
"We’re going to step in that gap. We’re going to be that fulfillment that many of them don’t have.
We are investing in human capital. Often times we invest in infrastructure. But what I found through the investment of human capital is that you get return for many many years. A person touches individuals for many many years."
And as Hill is answering the call, so is the community.
UCA football player Martez Modica is ineligable this semester after transferring. He’s committing to serving as a coach for one of the 8 schools opening programs. Because
"A lot of my friends were saved by football.
I hope they learn from me how to live better. I hope I can be an example for them," states Modica.
With high reward comes high responsibility. Through this process, there have been endless obstacles. But none, yet, that the community hasn’t been able to climb over.
Which brings us to Doctor Lee Nayles.
200 of the athletes signed up for 6th and goal didn’t have the resources to receive physicals. But, answered the call by performing 200 physicals in one day.
"It's bigger than any pay check I could ever get. I'm glad to be apart of it," says Nayles.
Finally, insert the 6th grade community. Boys thirsty for community and a chance to change the narrative of teenagers in the Little Rock school district.
Together everyone has come together with a common goal: to make a longstanding impression on the young men of L.R.