By Jeanie Summerville
What’s up, babies?
As always, I hope, all is well with you and yours and that, you’re still taking time out of your days to bring yourselves and others some well deserved joy, beauty, happiness and some form of peace of mind as we travel, on our journey of love, to get to know one another better. I am and it feels so goooood! On that note, we bring to you a man and some men who had a vision and passion for creating greatness in our youth here in Fort Wayne. It pleases me to bring to you the president of Metro Youth Sports Inc., today because through them, they have created a lot of beauty through sports expression by allowing youth to learn, grow, exercise, be involved in teamwork, acquire new friends, compete, gain some fantastic skills and etc., since these qualities are very importance in this thing called life and I love this kind of stuff. So now we bring to you its president and this is what he had to say:
“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is James Winters and I’m the president of Metro Youth Sports Inc., and we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary of teaching, training and tutoring the young boys and girls of our community. So, we’d like to invite you to join us Saturday, Aug. 16, for our 40th Anniversary Jamboree at Paul Harding Jr., High School from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and our First Annual Golf Outing at McMillen Park Golf Course from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Metro Youth Sports Inc., will celebrate ‘Forty Years of Greatness’ committed to providing Fort Wayne’s Youth, opportunities to get in action and have fun participating in educational and sports programs. Metro Youth Sports has influenced the lives of thousands of youth and contributed to the production of many outstanding football players in Fort Wayne area high schools, colleges and the NFL: Marqueis Gray, Cleveland Browns; Bernard Pollard, Tennessee Titans; Trey Essex, Pittsburgh Steelers; Vaughn Dunbar, New Orleans Saints; Lamar Smith, Miami Dolphins and James Hardy, Baltimore Ravens.
“The Metro Youth Sports Staff, along with the organization’s Board of Directors is comprised of a group of outstanding business leaders, community and youth advocates who are committed to continuing Metro Youth Sports mission. The organization’s goal is to become the premier youth sports program in the city of Fort Wayne. Plans are currently underway to expand Metro Youth Sports to include more children and develop education, self-esteem and leadership classes to ensure that all Metro Youth Sport’s youth, have the opportunity to be the best they can be.
“Thanks to the tremendous support, Metro Youth Sports, is celebrating 40 years of service to Fort Wayne youth. Metro’s Youth Sports roaster includes 30 football teams and 30 cheerleading squads representing the Pee Wee, Junior Varsity and Varsity Divisions. There are also 12 basketball teams. Under the current leadership of two Metro Football founding members Tom Macon, Chief Financial Officer and myself, Metro Youth Sports continues to break new ground and reach high heights. More than 12,000 boys and girls participated in Metro Youth Sports programs.
“In the 40 years serving the youth in the Fort Wayne area, we have learned that recreation and physical activities are particularly important to helping the youth understand the realities of life in their transition to adulthood. The ongoing social relationships that develop from participation in Metro Youth Sports programs provide a core of social resources that can support and protect the youth as they mature. With the youth participation in Metro Youth Sports programs, they will develop high self-esteem, which can lead to a higher level of motivation and can buffer the youth adverse influence such as, drug abuse and delinquent behavior.
“How it all started. I was born in Pittsburgh, PA and I attended Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, N.C., came to Fort Wayne October 30, 1972 and when I was just at the Kiwanis YMCA out in Westfield, I recognized that we did not have a football program that the kids could join. They had a program at McCullough Center and there was a team in the PAL program but there wasn’t a regular program in the black community. Then, Metro Sports was founded in 1974 as Metropolitan (Metro) Midget Football by a group of Fort Wayne men committed to providing an organized sports program for young boys residing in the central city neighborhood. This volunteer committee led by George Akison, John Autry, Archie Lunsey, Tom Macon, Charlie Woods and myself inspired families, schools and community organizations to support Metro Football’s mission to provide leadership, resources and activities for youth to be the best they can be athletically, academically and socially.
“Metro settled into its current home at Memorial Park Middle School football field in 1976, after having played on Weisser Park Elementary School and Portage Middle School fields. Charlie Woods, a founding Metro Football member and engineer, contributed tireless hours to building the concession stand, team trailers and the snow fences to keep the children safe while playing sports. A few years later through a collaboration of Archie Lunsey, 1st District City Councilman; Dr. Thomas Fowler-Finn, superintendent of FWCS; Metro Youth Sports and Mayor Paul Helmke, the Memorial Park facility was upgraded to an improved facility complete with light, press box, bleachers and restroom facilities. The Pepsi Cola Company donated the scoreboard still in use today.
“In 1977, two Metro wives, Mrs. Anyta (Tom) Macon and Mrs. Betty (Archie) Lunsey, formed the first Metro Football cheerleading squad for Outreach Rams and Omega Colts to include girls in the Metro family. In 1980, the African American Health Care Alliance and the Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority started providing medical physicals for the children who participate in our sports programs. In 1990, Metro Football began providing programs in basketball, baseball and track for boys and girls ages seven through 12 in the central city neighborhood, hence the name Metro Youth Sports. Over the years, Metro Youth Sports has also provided a drug awareness program and study tables. In 1995, under the leadership of the leadership of two Metro board members Pam Fisher and Marth Werst assisted Metro in applying for bingo license to raise funds to provide more services for the children participating in the educational and sports programs.
“Metro Youth Sports has contributed to the development of many outstanding athletes and students in the Fort Wayne area middle, high schools and beyond for more than 40 years thanks to the support of volunteer coaches and parents. These dedicated volunteers and Metro’s staff are involved in all aspects of the youths’ development and have served as a favorable influence in the lives of over 12,000 children annually. Their time and commitment exceed 50,000 hours per year!
“Being one of the founders of Metro Youth Sports make me feel, along with the others, that’s been around for this 40 years of greatness, that we’re able to give something back to the children in the community and we’re able to work with other adults on behalf of our children by becoming mentors to them and hopefully we can teach them a good way of life and that’s our contribution.”
Now in closing I say, great job Mr. Winters and I’m so proud of you and all the founders for making this beauty happen for our youth and It was fascinating to learn how all of this came about. So until next week, you’ve been Up Close with Jeanie. Bye, bye, babies.
P.S. If you would like the Spotlight shined upon you or someone that you know, all in the name of love, just send me an e-mail to upclosewithjeanie@yahoo. com. I’d love to hear from ya.
P.P.S. I’d like to thank all of you who have been sending me e-mails to give me some feed back on our journey. Keep up the good work and to those who haven’t please feel free to do so because I’d love to hear from you too.