By Leslie Aguilar
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KCTV) — A youth football league with athletes from all over the metro is now looking for a new field after vandals destroyed the league’s field in the East Bottoms where more than 200 children practice and play games.
Snapchat video taken in broad daylight Saturday shows two trucks and a Prius doing figure 8’s in an open field destroying the flat, manicured space.
“They stayed in the field for more than 5 minutes and targeted the middle of the field. Neighbors could hear them saying ‘try repairing the field this time,’ “ Jim Tuso, President of the Missouri Wolverines Football Club said.
The organization leases the field from Kansas City Parks and Recreation. Tuso, who also coaches teams, said this isn’t the first time people have damaged the field driving on it.
“This is actually the second weekend in a row they’ve come onto the field to do it. Last week it did not rain though, so it did very minimal damage,” he said.
Dozens of the 200 kids who play for the Wolverines, plus their parents, and siblings showed up to see the damage today and demand something be done about it.
“Save our field! Save our field! Save our field,” they chanted.
Tuso said neighbors provided surveillance footage in addition to the social media videos. Tuso said from all the footage, it’s easy to tell who the perpetrators are. Tuso has filed a police report and is confident there will be consequences.
Athletes like 11 year-old Joe Miller want to know why they did it.
“You didn’t have to do this to us. We’re just out here trying to have fun, trying to make dreams, make better of ourselves. And you’re trying to take that away,” Miller said.
There are Wolverines from age 5 to 14, many of whom go on to succeed in high school and college. Elias Contreras is now a junior in high school and the starting center at Park Hill South.
“I wasn’t the strongest. I wasn’t the fastest. I wasn’t the best athlete. And this team made me the athlete I am right now. So it meant a lot to me. I even come back and help coach sometimes,” Contreras said.
The deep rivets and dirt clumps left behind on the field make it dangerous for the children to play on. So, the organization is on the hunt for a new field to play on until repairs can be made.
“We are now more interested in where do these kids practice this week? Where do we have games? We have games the next two weekends scheduled to be on this field. A lot of the teams we play do not have their own home fields so they come here to play,” Tuso said.
The Wolverines need a field for practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and for games on Saturday. They’ve tried contacting local high schools, but haven’t been able to make contact with any due to the holiday weekend.
The Wolverines hope they can continue their season without a pause, that the city can do something to prevent future damage, and that the organization can continue making an impact on young athletes.
“People say football is just a sport to have fun in, but when you really think about it and start playing it, it’s a family,” Miller said.
“It just helps you grow as a young man. And a lot of these kids will be able to grow up and have so many opportunities,” Contreras said.
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