TGR: The Avenue Bears Football Team: An Amazingly Abundant Year for Historic West Baltimore Players
2 of 4 teams went to Nationals in Florida
By Doni Morton Glover, www.bmorenews.com
(BALTIMORE – February 28, 2011) - As a former player and now-Associate of James Mosher (Little League) Baseball, I am an ardent supporter of community sports. Growing up in an urban metropolis like Baltimore, I know that it is all too easy for a child to slip through the cracks. I know that the average child has to make adult decisions long before reaching the age of 18. And I also know that the more adults engage young people at an early age and teach them positive and productive skills – such as those gained through learning and playing team sports, then that child will have a better chance at success.
So, when I got the text and email last week from two community people inviting me to yesterday’s awards ceremony for The Avenue Bears Football Team - I already knew it was going to be a don’t-miss event. Even more, some of my favorite people had been diligently working behind the scenes so as to provide youths in Historic West Baltimore – on or around Historic Pennsylvania Avenue – a better chance to make something of themselves.
While Pennsylvania Avenue – with all of its rich music and cultural heritage – has been the scene of urban blight for the past 3 or 4 decades due to “brain drain” and a litany of other factors including the proliferation of heroin and crack cocaine, this football family – with people like Cedric Lee and Raymond “Chopper” Nelson at the helm – is making incredible strides utilizing the football field as a classroom. Yesterday’s ceremony symbolized the end of two years of Avenue Bears Football. The man with the plan – the coach with the most – is none other than Coach Schazz Lee, no relation.
While The Avenue Bears played in the Metro Pop Warner Division II Football League last year where the 7 – 9 year olds were State Champions, the team found a warmer reception this year in the Maryland Association Youth Football League.
This year, the 5 – 7’s were Division I State Runner-ups, they went to the nationals, and they ranked 2nd in country. The 7 – 9’s were Division II Runner-ups, and ranked 3rd in the country in the nationals. The 8 – 10’s were Division II Conference Runner-ups; and the 10 – 12’s were Division II Conference Runner-ups.
In all, this was a big year for the Bears, the parents, the coaches, and the supporters – like “Chopper”. And having two of the 4 teams make it to the national was icing on the cake.
Also the owner of “Chopper’s” Tavern and a barbershop on ‘the Avenue’, Chopper told BMORENEWS that he is in support of the Bears because it is a good way of keeping the youth occupied and out of trouble.
A native of Historic West Baltimore, he said, “This is our way of giving back what has been taken away from our community.”
He added, “We are providing male mentors and structural programs to keep kids off the streets.”
Those who know Chopper know that he is more a man of action than anything. The successful businessman is firmly planted in the community and is working to help make a great change on the Avenue.
“Everybody’s talking about the kids on the corners, but nobody is doing anything about it. The rec centers are being closed, and not being funded. There’s no money. Look at what is happening in the black community. People are locked up … incarcerated. If we are a product of our environment, then we need to create a better one. That is what we do! If the City makes a decision, what kind of decisions are we making?”
With a heart for the people, Chopper said that we should “give the kids quality memories instead of those of stabbings and somebody pulling out a gun.”
He said that if we provide the youngsters with enough good activities, they’ll have a better chance at successfully navigating the many pitfalls ahead.
“We want them to remember that we are all family and that three or four blocks shouldn’t make a bit of difference in the world,” he said – alluding to the organized criminal element in the community. "These activities and events will remind them that we are from the same place. So, therefore, we should not be killing each other, especially over pettiness."
Great job, Chopper! Great job, Coach Schazz and Coach Ced and the entire Avenue Bears Family - including the wonderful cheerleaders - on a stupendously amazing year. In all, 70 youngsters played football this past season.
Finally, yesterday was particularly special for me because my young man was a guest speaker. Yep! Asaan Glover, 9th grader at Poly – along with his Poly JV Football 9th grade teammate Troy Tubia - spoke at the ceremony.
Nope! I didn’t cry! Yep! I was really proud … of both of them. So many thoughts flash the mind. I guess what’s most important is that both Troy and Asaan – with people like Coach Cedric (also a Poly Football Coach) – in their lives, have a better chance at in making something of themselves. Even more beautiful is that at the tender age of 15 or so, both young men are getting a taste of reaching back - of (as WOLB 1010 AM's Coach Butch McAdams calls it) giving back while moving ahead.
Surely, the little people on the Avenue Bears must look up to the two Poly guys. That shows that we can all do something to help make the world a better place, no matter how small a deed.
Indeed, ‘service is the rent we pay to live.’
Just ask Coach Cedric why he volunteers of his time. Truly, he could be somewhere else. However, I think he simply knows his calling and is being obedient to the Spirit.
“I love the game of football,” he told BMORENEWS.com. “I love working with young black men. And I can’t imagine doing anything else. Besides, every time I want to quit, God taps me on my shoulder and tells me that I can’t. I gotta’ keep on.” (He smiles).
When asked why he chose Troy and Asaan to speak at the football awards banquet, he replied, “Troy … I love his work ethic. Training hard was something he didn’t want to do at first. Then, he found he’d lost 40 lbs. – all from working hard every day and accepting mentorship … I just think he is a great example of what we can do when we put our minds to something.”
As for Asaan, Coach Cedric said, “After not being a starter, he made a commitment to me that he would be in the weight room every day. He has excellent grades, he stays in the weight room – even when everybody else has left … “
In both instances, Coach Cedric insists that a strong work ethic is critical to success in any profession or endeavor – including football.
We also got a brief word with the man on the ground – in the trenches with the Avenue Bears, Coach Schazz. He told us, “It was a beautiful day! The kids were happy to get the trophies, and the parents were overwhelmed with the size and quality of the trophies, I think. It was a good day all around. In all, there were over 300 people in fellowship.”
Lastly, youth 10 and under (as of Dec. 31st) can sign-up for spring football. FMI, please call 410.491.6833.
God bless the Avenue Bears Football Family - including the cheerleaders - and, again, KUDOS on an excellent year!
BTV: Video Reports
Avenue Bears vs. The Parkside Warriors
Are you ready for some football?
The Avenue Bears, Historic Pennsylvania Avenue, Hold Fundraiser
Event at Chopper's Tavern, owned by Raymond Nelson, supports Avenue football
Avenue Bears Enter Hanlon Park, 9.25.10
Early on a Saturday morning, the family is ready for football!
Avenue Bears vs. Parkside Warriors, Pt. 3: Cheerleaders
Peep the cheerleaders!