Redskins, D.C. honor Beacon House Falcons for national football championship
Tuesday, December 14, 2010; 7:40 PM
At a time when the Washington Redskins' playoff hopes have faded, the team partnered with the D.C. government Monday night to honor the Beacon House Falcons, who won the 2010 Pop Warner Division 1 Junior Pee Wee National Football Championship.
The Redskins hosted a pizza party at Turkey Thicket Recreation Center, where city officials, tiny cheerleaders and screaming parents praised the Falcons players and coaches after they won the Junior Pee Wee Super Bowl in Orlando on Saturday and finished the season a perfect 16 and 0.
"I asked the Lord for a son, and now I have 29," Falcons head coach David "Ty" Johnson said of the team, made up of 85- to 105-pounders who are generally 9 to 11 years old.
"I want to tell you that I love you and nothing will change," Johnson told the crowd. "School comes first, set your goals high, and don't let people tell you that you can't do anything."
One of the happiest people in the gym was the Rev. Donald E. Robinson, founder and president of Beacon House. He started an after-school program for young people in the Edgewood section of Northeast Washington in 1991 in an effort to curtail the violence in the community.
"They used to call it Beirut because there was so much violence," Robinson said. "The goal was to improve the academic ability of children in the neighborhood to compete with any child in the world, and we are moving toward that today."
"In addition to football, we have about 120 kids who come for study hall after school, and three days a week we have a special program for math and reading called Focus on Excellence. While we are happy for this victory, we are happier that our children are learning the importance of getting an education."
Tyrone Freeman, 12, who plays for the Falcons with his 11-year-old brother, said he joined the team because "we have good coaches and good sportsmanship."
In the championship game, the Falcons beat the Liberty City Warriors of Miami, 19-0. Johnson said the effort was all about teamwork.
D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) praised both teams and singled out Robinson for creating a program that has saved many young people from the streets.
The Watkins Hornets won the national championship in the Junior Midget division last year. But this year, they came up short against the Florida City Razorbacks, losing 34-6. The team, which finished the season 15-1, defeated teams from across the country, earning the right to play in the championship.
The Pop Warner Super Bowl tournament consisted of 64 teams from eight regions from across the country.
"The most important thing is how these kids have learned the importance of hard work, dedication and team work," said Jesus Aguirre, director of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation. "This is not just about winning a championship. This is a life-changing experience for them and inspiring for everyone."