In a field behind Hinkley High School in Aurora, the Box State Hornets pour their hearts into football practice.
“We have kids ages 5 to 11,” said Coach Marquise Enoch, who started the community youth program a few years ago. “My goal is to ultimately build within this community, and let these kids and parents know there’s a program right in your backyard.”
Among the kids on the field this year, is 9-year-old Jayden Wilson.
“This game is like our life, basically,” he told CBS News Colorado’s Kelly Werthmann. “We learn a lot about football, but Coach always tells us to bring our report cards on Friday…because you can’t go to the NFL or play in college if you don’t get your grades.”
You also can’t play the sport you love if you don’t have the right gear. Jayden sadly found that out the hard way when his dad’s car was recently stolen in Aurora.
“I was very sad,” he said. “I was disappointed. I was mad.”
That’s how Jayden met Aurora Police Officers Mike Averett and Mike Torres. He told them his football helmet and pads were in his dad’s car.
“Me and Mike had a quick conversation with Jayden’s father and said we want to do everything we can to hopefully get some football pads back to you soon,” Torres told CBS News Colorado.
So, Mike and Mike went around their department, raised some money and surprised Jayden with new gear before his first game. They also brought Gatorade and other refreshments for the team.
“I was like, ‘Oh man!’ because my dad was like, ‘You recognize those guys?’,” said Jayden. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, I do!’ And then they opened up the truck door and they had so much stuff in there.”
It was a moment Mike and Mike said they won’t soon forget.
“Watching him light up like a kid on Christmas, it was just the best feeling in the world,” said Torres.
Yet the officers soon learned Jayden isn’t alone in his football gear struggles. Many families on the community-driven team cannot afford the equipment, which often means their kids cannot play.
“Our goal is to put ourselves in a position where we could possibly get enough sponsors, donation money to be able to rent that stuff out,” Coach Enoch explained. “And put them in a position where parents aren’t paying $400, $500 for helmets, $200 for shoulder pads.”
Once again, Mike and Mike are trying to help.
“Growing up, football was everything to me,” said Averett. “I thought back to when I was a kid, my parents would not have been able to replace that equipment had I been in that situation. So, I tried reaching out to several nonprofits that my friends were on, but no one was really willing to help.”
Now the pair is hopeful the community will step in to support the Box State Hornets, perhaps even sponsor the team. Coach Enoch said Mike and Mike’s efforts are already making a big difference.
“It’s going to build something special for these kids in the community,” Enoch said of the officers’ kindness and continued work to support the team.
“We want the community to know that we really do want to make the world a better place,” said Averett.
And, for kids like Jayden, it means they can keep playing the game they love.
“A big thank you!” he said.
If you’d like to support the Box State Hornets or learn more about the program, visit the team’s Facebook page. That’s how to best reach Coach Enoch and get information about sponsorship opportunities.
Source: Rocky Mountain News