Las Vegas football program wants kids to elude drugs, gangs

Dina Lee’s middle school classmate offered her marijuana last month.

It could have been easy to succumb to peer pressure, but 14-year-old Lee said no. She didn’t want to let her teammates down.

“The captain can’t do stupid stuff like that at all,” she said.

This year Lee leads a mixed-gender tackle-football team, and she doesn’t want her fellow Warriors thinking it’s OK to do drugs.

“Once you let one person down, the whole thing falls down,” she said.

Her attitude mirrors the lessons taught at the Warriors youth football and cheerleading camp.

Camp representative and coach Milton Burns said the program aims to steer children away from becoming involved in illegal activity while promoting athleticism, teamwork and education. More than half the players live in government-owned or subsidized housing.

“I go after a lot of unfortunate kids, because I don’t want to see them gangbanging or selling drugs. None of that,” Burns said.

Not about wins and losses

A football coach for the past 16 years, Burns launched the Warriors team under the Southern Nevada Youth Sports Association in 2012.

Today, his volunteer staff coaches almost 150 children ages 4 to 14 from across the Las Vegas Valley. Three nights a week during the fall, the camp’s six teams don their shiny blue helmets for practice at Ed Fountain Park in Las Vegas.

The teams played their final games of the regular season on Oct. 28. Each finished with a winning season.

Burns said he’s proud of the teams’ records, but the Warriors care about more than putting points on the board.

“A lot of coaches are just about wins and losses,” he said. “Not us. We’re about the kids.”

Players aren’t allowed on the field if they don’t show coaches their report cards. Getting a failing grade will put them on the bench, but the Warriors also offer free tutoring during practice.

Burns said it’s imperative to keep children in school and off the streets. The 45-year-old lifelong North Las Vegas resident is no stranger to the tragedies of gang life.

At age 19 he lost a close friend to a gang-related shooting. Six years ago his cousin was shot to death the day of the team’s championship game. Burns said it was a gang-ordered hit.

“I would never want to see one of my kids or their parents go through what I’ve been through,” he said.

The Warriors camp has the support of Jennifer Travis, a single mother of five living in North Las Vegas.

She’s kept her youngest son involved in football since he was 5. This year 11-year-old Nacole Zone played middle linebacker for the Warriors.

“For a lot of these kids, even if it’s just an hour or two, it’s a way out of the ghetto, and they need this,” Travis said. “These men are mentors to these young boys. They learn discipline and self-respect out on the field.”

Shouldering the costs

The most difficult part of running the Warriors football program is the cost, said Naquita Fox, the teams’ business manager and Burns’ wife.

The camp costs about $13,000 a year to run. For each child they have in the football program, parents are asked to pay close to $400 in combined league and team fees.

To help shoulder the costs, the teams and parents host barbecue dinners, sell concessions and conduct popcorn fundraisers throughout the year. This year the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority also donated $5,000.

Fox said the team is always seeking sponsorships. During the toughest times, the coaches will open their own wallets to get children on the field.

“In my heart, I can’t turn a kid away,” Fox said. “I would take my last dollar to help a child, even if he wasn’t mine.”

As long as the camp continues, it will continue to have an impact on the lives of children like Lee.

“I learned not to give up. Whatever you try, you keep going until you succeed,” she said. “If we don’t get a play right, then keep going. If you don’t get a test right, you keep going and keep going until you get the grades you want.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's 7th annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ranging from ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Clark County recount votes in commission’s District E primary
Clark County staff begin the recount requested by candidate Marco Hernandez in the democratic primary for the County Commission's District E seat on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Long-running local hip hop producer wants Vegas rappers to shine
Las Vegas Hip Hop producer and co-owner of Digital Insight Recording Studios Tiger Stylz reflects on 30 years of music production in the city. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like