A weekend filled with the thwack of shoulder pads and the smack of helmets culminated towards this, the end. The time when one team would rise from the gridiron as champions while the other stayed on the floor with the taste of defeat still fresh in their mouths.
The Grand City All-Stars rose to the challenge.
On this day, 35 young men from Grand Rapids stood united at the Battle of Spartan Nation. 35 young men who worked hard throughout the Rocket Football season and chose to come back for more. 35 young men who wanted to play more football and ended up playing their way into the National Tournament.
The Grand City All-Stars came together under the direction of Head Coach Uriel Tyler. It was an idea that’s been kicked around in his head for over 2 years.
“The season is so short for these guys with only 6 weeks of games. Practice starts just a couple weeks before games begin,” states Coach Tyler, “With these boys playing a High School season next year, I wanted to give them an opportunity to play a longer season. One that started after Rocket Football ended.”
The Grand City All-Stars play in the 14u bracket of the Football Championship Series, a club league that extends beyond the normal season for youth players. They only planned on playing in one tournament – The Battle of Spartan Nation – but after winning the championship, the Grand City All-Stars qualified for the national tournament on December 27-30 in Dallas, Texas!
“This is a special group of kids. They play so hard! We didn’t give up one point the entire tournament,” describes Coach Tyler with emotion swelling in his voice, “That shows how hard these kids play. They don’t give up!”
While winning is nice, the team has been a great way to bring kids together within the City League.
There is a lot of animosity between players and parents of different city league teams. When those teams play each other during the season, emotions run high. Players can build up ill-will towards players of other teams who will end up being their teammates at the high school level. Those issues have dissolved by playing together with the Grand City All-Stars.
“I coached at a High School where guys came together from different city league teams and still had hatred because of the city youth league,” explained Coach Tyler, “This All-Star team has been a great way for these kids to get to know each other and build friendships.”
Coach Tyler isn’t alone, offensive line coach Anthony McNeal also mentioned the positives the team has had off the gridiron, “These boys are spending time together, hanging out and posting pictures on Facebook with each other. They’re from all different backgrounds and coming together playing football and fundraising. It’s a great story!”
In order to play in the National Tournament, the team needs to raise $20,000 by December 21. They’ve been selling cookies and popcorn, running pop can drives, and holding bowling and skating parties to raise the money! Right now they’re halfway there.
They have a bowling party this Saturday and would love for you to stop by! Bowling is at East Brook Lanes from 7-9pm and the cost is only $12 for unlimited bowling! The proceeds go towards the Grand City All-Stars trip to Dallas.
There are many ways to donate to the Grand City All-Stars. You can donate online at www.grandcitysports.com (just click the donate button!) or by going to their Facebook page, just type in “Grand City All-Stars” into the Facebook search bar.
If going on-line doesn’t work for you, send donations to P.O Box 68316 Grand Rapids, MI 49516.
Going to Dallas would be a dream come true for the players and their coaches. The Grand City All-Stars have yet to give give up a point, let’s see that streak continue down in Texas!