Thursday, October 2, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: A team photo of the Memorial Park Tiny Mite Spartans, who went undefeated this season. | Carol Robinson
For the first time in the history of Bellwood Spartan football, the Tiny Mites — one of four teams that are part of the Spartans organization — went undefeated. The team of 5- to 7-year-olds went 8-0 this season, a marked improvement over last year, when they went 3-5, said their head coach, Jerome Mayfield.
“This year we had a different mindset,” Mayfield, 22, said. “We were more positive and during the offseason, we worked and practiced harder.”
Mayfield said that the Spartan football organization, which is operated under the Memorial Park District and competes in the Chicago Pop Warner football league, is growing despite a reluctance among some parents across the country to enroll their children in football.
“Parents are afraid of letting their kids play because they’re afraid of them getting hurt and they’re worried about concussions,” Mayfield said. “A lot of people are concerned about the injury risk, but football isn’t even the number one sport when it comes to injury risk.”
The Bellwood Spartan Tiny Mites on game day. | Courtesy Carol Robinson
And the risks, Mayfield added, are outweighed by the sense of brotherhood the game cultivates among players. The camaraderie and sense of family is why Carol Robinson said she’s signed her two sons up to play Spartan football. Robinson, a Tiny Mite team mother, lives in Oak Brook.
“I travel to Bellwood in order for my son to play in this program because it is that good,” she said. “The coaches have come back to give their services to the kids and to help build a good program.”
Overall, Robinson said, the Spartan football organization has around 150 participants among its four different teams and cheerleading squads. There were 17 players on this year’s Tiny Mites, Mayfield said.
Although the Tiny Mite division doesn’t feature a playoff system, Mayfield said that his team won a call-out game last week against their rival, the Harvey Colts, which had also been undefeated until going down 12-6 to the Spartans.
The Bellwood Tiny Mite Spartans readying themselves for another victory. | Carol Robinson
Naturally, some Tiny Mite players will grow older and become Mitey Mites, a division that does feature a playoff round.
“They still have a lot of growing to do but next year, I want to see them reach the playoffs,” Mayfield said, adding that the players are still on a high from their successful season.
“This undefeated season made them feel very confident in themselves and in each other,” he said. “We want them to embrace each other and consider each other more than just teammates — we want them to feel like brothers.” VFP
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