North Philly Blackhawks celebrate their regional championship with co-head coach Derrick Williams. Credit: Chris Proctor.
For the second time in three years the North Philly Blackhawks played their way into the Pop Warner National Championship tournament in Orlando.
And for the second time, they need help getting there.
"The easy part is football," said Keon Savoy, a co-head coach. "The hard part is always the financing, considering we're in such an urban area. Not an easy place to be looking for money."
The week before the 120-pound Blackhawks were set to leave for the annual tournament in Walt Disney World in 2010, coaches and officials felt their pockets.
After hearing of their financial problems, Mayor Michael Nutter gathered the $26,500 from a collection of local organizations necessary to get the team to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.. And the team responded: winning the Division I Pee Wee championship game 24-20.
This year the Blackhawks won their league, and then won their region, but to win it all the group of boys aged 10 to 12 will have to beat three teams from regions across the country to bring home the National Championship for the second time. But they need to get their first.
Savoy, who played for the North Philly Blackhawks in the mid-1990s and never left, said he reached out to Temple University, the city and other organizations for help.
Mark McDonald, Mayor Michael Nutter's press secretary, said the city has received the Blackhawks request and are reviewing it.
"We've asked them to detail in writing their needs," McDonald said, "What specifically they need and we've told them we'd be getting in touch with them very soon."
Temple spokesman Ray Betzner said he had not heard of any request from the Blackhawks as of Tuesday afternoon.
In August, local officials announced a $2.5 million donation to renovate the Blackhawks dilapidated field, located at 11th and Cecil B. Moore in the heart of North Philadelphia.
Savoy said 54 members, including players, cheerleaders and their coaches, are slated to make the trip, which runs from Dec. 7 to 14.
"We'll do our best to get back do down there," he said, "And try to bring one more championship back to Philadelphia."
For the first time, the cheerleading team also made the Pop Warner championship tournament. The 14-member team will compete against squads from across the country for national recognition.