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Daily Journal
     January 30, 2020      #95-30 KDJ
 

Jr. Kays football program moving forward 

By Chris Breach
cbreach@daily-journal.com


KANKAKEE — A photo of a Kankakee football player was projected on a screen in the middle of the Kankakee High School auditorium with the words “One Team, One Goal” on the bottom of the image.

That also was the underlying theme at the second informational night and sign-ups for the Jr. Kays football program on Tuesday. A steady stream of parents attended to ask questions and/or to sign up their children for junior football and cheerleading.

The Jr. Kays is offering parents another option from two other long-standing programs — Eastside Bulldogs and the Kankakee Colts. At a previous informational meeting in December, representatives from the Bulldogs spoke in opposition of the new program. That wasn’t the case on Tuesday.

“It’s about bringing the kids together,” said Paris Johnson, of Kankakee. “You think about the whole city being split, but now you come together as one and you can have better competition, the kids can get better.”

Johnson signed up his sons, Kyron and Lysale, to play football. Both had previously played for the Colts. He said some kids have played outside the area in the past. He also likes the opportunities the Jr. Kays, who are affiliated with the Pop Warner organization, provide.

“You’ve got a chance to go to Florida and play on a national level,” he said. “You’ve got a chance to play for a national championship. ... You can stay here and be recognized by your own city and go on and play without another city’s name on your chest. ... You don’t have to send them anywhere.”

Candice Thomas, of Kankakee, registered her son, Tremayne, to play football for the Jr. Kays.

“I think them coming together is way better than having them divided,” Candice Thomas said.

Tremayne, 7, played the previous two years for the Colts.

Darlisha Britton, of Kankakee, signed up her daughter, Mikaya, for cheerleading. Mikaya had previously cheered for both the Colts and Eastside Bulldogs.

“I like how they’re combining everybody,” Darlisha Britton said. “That’s what I like about it. They’re combining all the kids, and everybody is on the same level, and everybody is staying in the same area.”

Chuck Nolte, of Bourbonnais, was there seeking answers to his questions before he signs up his son to play. His son previously played for the Bourbonnais Bears and the Colts. He also said there’s some movement to travel football.

Nolte had questions for Jr. Kays board member Calvin Works about player expectations and what goals they were trying to accomplish.

“He said all the good answers,” said Nolte, who hasn’t decided where his son will play. “No, not yet. I’m leaning here though.”

More than 30 kids signed up for football, and approximately the same number registered for cheer. There will be sign-ups in each of the next three months, and the next date is Feb. 25 at the KHS auditorium.

Derek Hart, the KHS head football coach and board member of the Jr. Kays, said the turnout was what he expected, and they’re ready to move forward.

“A lot of the other side hasn’t talked to me,” he said. “The first meeting we had here you kind of saw that the older people were kind of used to the old ways and want to keep the old ways, and the younger people are ready for some change.”

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Christopher Breach