MILWAUKIE, OR (KPTV) – The championship season is among us for kids playing football at all levels. FOX 12 spent some time with the group of middle-schoolers who are thankful for the opportunity to represent Oregon at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It’s been a hall of fame season for Team Oregon. Now, this gridiron group of all-stars of sixth, seventh and eighth grade of more than 90 kids around the state is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame World Youth Championships in Canton, Ohio.
These kids love their all-star football.
“It’s definitely harder than regular football, it’s challenging,” said seventh grader Joaquin Bale.
From Medford to the state line north, making the two practices a week in Keizer and Milwaukie is tough enough, but the spread-out families all pull together for one collective unit.
“Just to say you get to play with kids from around the state so you don’t just stuck with the same group, team you played with your whole entire life. You get to play with other people as well,” said seventh grader Tristin McGann.
Now in his 10th year of being a youth coach and mentor in the Salem area as president for the nonprofit, Island Boy Camp, Alex Fuimaono and his staff have formed a triple threat of middle school clubs to represent in Canton with the Team Oregon Sharks, an import creature in Samoan folklore.
“It’s a bucket list for us coaches but the opportunity for our kids to be out there in such a big stage, under the big lights, it’s hard to turn down,” Fuimaono said.
The Sharks are chomping at the bit before boarding a jet plane to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
When asked what he’s going to do on a plane for six hours, sixth grader Gavin Aguero said, “Maybe go over my play book to remember it, and probably just like, go on my phone or something.”
There will be no phoning it in.
“I think our team will do pretty good and at least score a couple of touchdowns,” said Forest Grove sixth grader Tyson Davis.
They’re moving and grooving in the name of the entire state of Oregon.
“It’s a really big opportunity. I am kind of scared myself,” said eighth grader Nick Henry-Logan.
There is no fear in the extended Ohio weather forecast.
“It’s going to be sick. You get to go to a different state and possibly play in snow. It’s fun. We don’t get a lot of snow down here so it’s going to be fun playing in that freezing cold weather,” said eighth grader Tyler Bopwers.
Make no mistake, this isn’t just a mini-vacation.
“We are not going over there just to get our butts handed to us,” said eighth grader Hatimu Letisi. “We are going to go over there and put up a fight.”
Coach Fuimaono said, “It’s all about the village. You have to take care of the village and it takes a village to raise 90 kids and we absolutely love this village, so anything for these kids that we can do, we will.”
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