INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The sun sets over the TAB Recreation football field early these days. A sure sign this football season has fallen into late November, a time when only those preparing for a championship play.
“It’s truly like a Cinderella story, last year we didn’t win any games,” Candice Green, whose son plays on the TAB Colts football team.
The Colts are made up of 8 and 9-year-olds we first met in October when wide receiver, running back and corner back Reese Hamilton was preparing for a peace march. His teammates joined him, sick of the killing around them, too.
They went to the football field right after to play in their last game before the city championship, a championship game they won 28-0.
“The hard work and dedication showed on the field that day,” Corey Barnett, one of the team’s coaches, said, “I held my tears back until I got in the car.”
A red van to be exact. A vehicle often full of kids Coach Barnett picks up and takes home from practices and games.
“They gotta know somebody cares. With all the stuff going on in our world and in our city here in Indianapolis, the kids gotta know that there’s somebody that has their back and everybody’s not gonna turn their back on them,” he said.
That mentality has led to their success off,
“See what we can do to help the teacher get more out of the student,” Barnett said.
And on the field.
“I have no words of how proud I am of them.”
After winning the city championship, the undefeated team went to a regional tournament in Louisville.
“We ended up winning the 8-year-old division and we punched our tickets to Orlando,” Barnett said.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, not everyday a group of inner city boys wins the regional championships and then gets to go to Florida for the nationals for Christmas, that is a once in a lifetime,” Green said.
But they can’t get there unless they raise $5,000.
“That’s hotel rooms, that’s transportation, feeding the kids while we’re there,” Barnett said.
The team collected donations at Lucas Oil Stadium ahead of the Colts game on November 20. In all, they raised more than $1,100 Sunday. They have also set up a Go Fund Me page.
“Just to let them know that there are other people to support them, want to see them make it,” one of the player’s mom’s Brandi Jones said.
And to give these kids an opportunity they’ll remember for many late football seasons to come.
“They’ll never forget it. Ever. Ever,” Barnett said.
According to TAB’s Recreation Director, no TAB football team has ever made it to a national championship. Approximately 30 percent of their football players receive a partial or full scholarship to play.
In addition, wide receiver, running back and corner back Reese Hamilton is continuing his quest to help the city of Indianapolis by giving away meals on Thanksgiving and blankets and gift bags for Christmas.
On Thanksgiving Day he plans to give away meals at 30th and Gladstone to the first 20 to 25 people from 10:00 a.m. to noon. He will then be serving food at TAB at 34th and Central from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Blankets and items for gift bags can be dropped off at 30th and Gladstone or picked up. You can also donate to his Go Fund Me page.