Vandals ransack youth football offices in Southeast Washington

Thieves broke into the offices of a youth football team in Southeast Washington and stole thousands of dollars worth of football equipment and electronics, team officials said Saturday.
By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The defaced trophies hurt the most.

Not that they were anything great -- cheap metal topped with the gilded statue of a running player or the cup of victory. The whole lot of them probably worth a few bucks.

But as the stunned coaches of the Benning Terrace Soldiers youth football program picked through the wreckage of their offices Monday, it was the damage to their team trophies that seemed most painful. Symbols of this championship or that bowl game, they were emblems of more than just football games.

The trophies -- spoiled with spray paint -- were only part of the ruin left by vandals over the weekend at the Pop Warner program's offices in the Benning Terrace apartment complex in the 4400 block of G Street in Southeast Washington.

Outside, the team's van was savaged.

The windshield was smashed. The tires were slashed. White paint was splashed on the hood and sides of the vehicle, and the interior was trashed.

Inside the spartan three-room headquarters, it was worse: Paint was splattered on the walls and equipment. Food was smeared on the floor. Team photos were defaced.

In addition, most of the team's blue, black and white football jerseys were stolen, along with shoulder pads, video equipment and computers, team officials said. The kitchen and small weight room were ransacked. The front desk was smashed.

The TV, microwaves, blue team helmets, even the big rubber trash cans, were spray-painted. And newspapers, magazines and other items were thrown into a big pile on the floor in the main office.

On Monday, Curtis Monroe ("Coach Peedy"), the athletic director of Benning Terrace Youth Opportunities, which runs the program, along with Executive Director Charles Penny and another coach, Kenneth Windley ("Coach Chop"), wandered among the wreckage of their enterprise, like men whose home has just burned down.

Benning Terrace is not a place of plenty, and the men who guide the youth football program for youngsters do so often out of their own pockets and in their spare time.

The trashed van, a 1994 Chevy into which the whole team and its equipment could be crammed, belonged to Monroe, who said he has been unemployed for two years. Penny said he works as a maintenance man.

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