GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand City All-Stars youth football team is having a great start to the year. They traveled 22 long hours by bus to Texas with only one goal in mind: to win the national championship. And after competing in the round-robin tournament they came out on top for the second consecutive time. And more remarkably, they achieved this feat just days after a tornado hit.
“When we got down there, we had to deal with a tornado down there,” said Will Wise, the team’s defensive coordinator. “I mean there’s just no greater feeling than going through adversity. And then being able to just you know take care of business.”
Uriel Tyler, founder and head coach, said the tornado hit 45 minutes after they arrived in DeSoto Texas and it completely destroyed homes and fields. It also delayed the tournament by two days.
“It was like storming and stuff,” said 11-year-old Ja’martae Hogan who was also named MVP of the championship. “I thought I wasn’t going to come home.”
Hogan and his teammates made it home a few days later than expected but not without being crowned champions. Coach Omari Smith said the team won because the kids played like brothers.
“Me and Coach O, the passion that we have for these kids to succeed and then having a group of kids that are willing to listen and learn and show them the right way, I mean I love it,” said Wise.
When the team returned the kids were greeted by family and friends cheering and holding up signs. The kids, in return, were happy to show off their championship belt.
“We did it again. We all did it again,” said Coach Omari Smith. “We came back home with another title. It’s a beautiful feeling to represent Grand Rapids Michigan.”