Gridiron Ethic Provides Alternative To Violence
Football Program Brings Huskers To Youth Thursday, November 8, 2007
KETV Channel 7

Football Program Brings Huskers To Youth

OMAHA, Neb. -- After a summer of violence involving teenagers, one program is working to tackle trouble before it tackles the students.

A team of coaches and mentors want to change the outlook for fall and beyond by keeping teenagers busy in positive activities. That took the form of a football game, played Wednesday night at Central High School.

The team is called the Warriors -- a youth football program focused on helping at-risk boys. Organizers said they're using the game of football to teach the kids positive life strategies.

"Basically, what we do is try to get these kids off the streets, in something positive, and the No. 1 thing is discipline," said coach Vershan Jackson.

Jackson is a former Nebraska football player. There are about 65 kids in the program, and Jackson said that for the team, it is about more than just football.

"Twenty-eight percent of black men born today will go to prison in their lifetime. This is a program built on not seeing these kids go to jail," Jackson said. "Instead, we want them living a productive, positive life, being able to give back to their community."

Former Husker Ahman Green purchased all the uniforms and paid the league fees to get the team started. Jackson said that Green has provided more than just a paycheck -- he comes back as often as he can to speak to the kids directly.

Jackson said he wants the students to learn responsibility. He said that hitting the field with him means first keeping their grades up.

"These kids get a kind of college atmosphere in Little League," he said.

"We bring our homework and go to study hall and do our homework there till 7 or 7:30," said Shane Harlan, who has been a Warrior for three years.

Shane's mother, Latosha, said she's seen a big improvement in Shane's schoolwork.

"They've worked with them. Changed their grades -- they're skyrocketing. Even my son's teacher came tonight. His school supports him," she said.

Jackson said he hopes that working with the teens today will make a positive difference in the future.

"We got to give back to these kids -- show them they can make a difference in the world, but it's going to take some positive male role models to get that done," Jackson said.

All of the proceeds from Wednesday night's game were donated to a center being built for boys.

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