YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The last remaining youth football program in Youngstown’s inner city held practice Thursday evening at Gibson Field.
The Fighting Little Redmen program has been around for 50 years. With violent crime an issue in Youngstown, it’s a program that works to keep kids out of trouble, but now it needs some help.
“So we want the community to come out and start really supporting these kids that are doing stuff that’s right,” said team president and head coach Jay Glover.
In other words, the program needs money.
The Little Redmen program is made up of 120 kids spread over four teams. Most of the kids have uniforms, but at least two of the bigger kids do not — they have a nearly empty equipment room.
“We could use more helmets, shoulder pads, pants. Mainly helmets for the big guys, the older kids, and the smallest, the 5 and 6 year olds,” said coach Gary Jones.
Each parent pays $50 a player. A new helmet costs $140. The team also travels to some games. Shay Henderson has two boys on the team and knows it can be a financial burden.
“A lot of these kids’ parents can’t afford to send them or take them to Erie and some of the other places,” Henderson said.
She also knows what they’re getting.
“Showing them discipline, showing them teamwork and just getting along with other kids,” Henderson said.
This is Glover’s ninth year of running the Little Redmen. He played at Rayen, so he knows the benefits sports can provide.
“It saved my life, playing sports. So that’s why this is my main passion, because I know this can change a kid’s life,” Glover said.
In a shady corner of the field, a picnic area was set up. When practice is over, the kids are fed.
“We’re not just only teaching them football, we’re teaching them quality skills, life skills,” Jones said.
“If you find it in your heart, please help the Redmen. They really need a lot of help,” Henderson said.
Along with the fee from the parents, money is also made at each home game.
There are also a couple of fundraisers throughout the year. If you want to help or donate, send a message to the Fighting Lil Redmen Youth Football page on Facebook or call Glover at 330-519-2585.