FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Metro Youth Sports kicked off its 40 year anniversary at their annual jamboree Saturday at Paul Harding, Jr. High School. The introduction to the season lasted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
James Winters, one of the founders of the organization, said he began the league back in 1974 because there were no programs of the kind on the Southeast side of town. He said Metro Youth started with only four teams. Now, they have 30 teams and more than a thousand kids involved in their football, basketball, and cheerleading programs. However, Winters said its about more than just the sport. Coaches and mentors also place an emphasis on life lessons.
Photo Gallery | Metro Youth Sports Jamboree
“We have set up a program to help our children educationally, to help them understand communication, to help them with communication skills in school, how to deal with their behavior,” Winters said.
It’s a service many, including Mayor Tom Henry and Police Chief Garry Hamilton, said is needed in the community.
“What’s going on in our country, specifically with African-American males is tragic, so we have to get them when they’re young,” said Joe Jordan, the CEO of Fort Wayne’s Boys and Girls Clubs. “It’s much easier to invest in children then try to repair adults.”
Parents and players who came out to the jamboree agree. They said it gives children productive outlets.
“Many life lessons, to be humble, to stay patient…sometimes things might get hard, but you’re going to make it through,” Allen Robinson, who’s entering his last year with the league, said.
The program has graduated people like Jaylon Smith who plays for Notre Dame, Bernard Pollard who plays for the Tennessee Titans, as well as many doctors and nurses.
The organization also held its first golf outing at McMillen Park Golf Course Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Metro Youth Sports‘ teams kick of their season Sunday at 1 p.m. at Memorial Park.