Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Punting Passing and Kicking for a Stronger Brownsville

On July 26th, the Brownsville Community Justice Center helped sponsor an NFL Punt Pass & Kick Skills Competition put on by our partner, the Mo Better Jaguars youth football program in Betsy Head Park. PP&K (as it's known) is an initiative of the NFL to engage young people in football fundamentals. Although it's a supportive environment, competition is fierce- the highest scorers from Saturday advance to a regional competition and those winners will compete during the Super Bowl!

The Mo Better Jaguars are part of the North Jersey Pop Warner conference which features some of the region's powerhouse programs. They are the only Pop Warner football program in New York City and have been playing in Brownsville for more than 17 years.  Aside from winning regional and national titles, they have produced stars such as Jaiquawn Jarrett, now a safety for the New York Jets, and Kevin Ogletree, now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer wideout. Mo Better used to play its home games in the heart of Brownsville at Betsy Head Park but a few years ago officials deemed the field unfit for competition. Now Mo Better must travel outside of the neigborhood for home games. Even though Mo Better can't play games at Betsy Head, they continue to practice there because Brownsville is there home and so their families can watch them play.

The Village Voice has recently covered the program with a series of articles that highlight Mo Better's successes and challenges especially when alumni of the program get caught up in the criminal justice system and life on the streets. Just last month, two of the program's alum were killed by gun violence.

The Justice Center supports events like this as a part of "Brownsville Stronger Together" it's campaign to combat gun and gang violence in the neighborhood. The campaign's strategy is threefold:
1) Spreading positive messaging that highlights Brownsville's strengths, promotes neighborhood pride and strengthens community ties;
2) Creating opportunities for youth to develop skills, build self-worth and be agents of change in their community;
3) Activating public spaces and organizing place-based activities that create visible change in the physical environment.

The Mo Better Jaguars were not deterred by the poor condition on Betsy Head field. In fact, Coach Legree has instilled in them that overcoming adversity is fundamental to the game of football and has surely been critical to their great success as a program. Watching the crowd of young football stars drilling, cheering each other on, and bringing life to the often desolate park gets to heart of what "Brownsville Stronger Together" represents. We were proud to partner with Mo Better on this event and wish them the best this coming season!  

 
 





 
Head Coach of the Mo Better Jaguars Chris Legree reminds his kids of the principles they play by and live by.


Coach Legree give the Mo Better Jaguars a pep talk.

James Brodick of the Justice Center, tells the kids how their drilling, practicing and playing makes Brownsville stronger.


Let the competition begin!
 

 




 

                                        Punting
 
Passing
 
 

                                                                 and kicking 

 

 


 
 for a Stronger Brownsville!
 

 

 

 

 


 

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