Syracuse, N.Y. — More than 50 players and coaches from the Henninger and Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central football teams came together Thursday afternoon to give back to their community.
The teams, which will face off Saturday, walked about a half mile from ITC’s campus on East Adams Street to the Rescue Mission on Dickerson Street to pass out food to people in need.
“It feels good that we can come together and help the people that need it,” said Jalin Hines, a senior offensive and defensive lineman at Henninger. “I feel like our community doesn’t really get noticed a lot. It felt really good to be able to give back. To step away from the football and come take an hour out of our day to really do this.”
Eddie Mitchell, the founder and CEO of Team Angel, was the spark that led to Thursday’s community outreach event. Mitchell created Team Angel 13 years ago with the words, “Avoid negative garbage, enjoy life,” at its core. The former Corcoran football player’s organization provides youth mentoring, motivational speaking and community service.
“It’s amazing to see this, actually,” Mitchell said. “It’s really heartfelt. I never thought what I created, Team Angel, I never thought I’d be doing this. I never thought I’d be making an impact in this community like this on this level. It’s an honor. It’s amazing to see.”
Mitchell said he collaborated with Syracuse City Schools Director of Athletics Jesse Long, Henninger football coach Nick Patterson and ITC football coach Cedric Stevens to put together Thursday’s event.
“It is a good thing for our young men to get out here and do some positive things in the community,” said Patterson, who is heading into his first season with the Black Knights. “Because we’re always labeled as doing bad things and negative things. So, we wanted to get them out here to show that there are some positive things that they can do.”
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Stevens said his ITC football team jumped at the chance to give back to their community.
“This is huge because basically a lot of the kids are from this community,” said Stevens, who took over the ITC program in 2017. “For them to give back right now and also see people that look just like them and knowing they’re in a tough spot in their life, and they can go back and help out, that’s huge.”
Thursday’s event was even more special for ITC senior lineman Daron Torrence.
“To be honest, it’s just really positive for me since I was one of them before,” he said. “Just coming from this, it just makes me feel happy to know that I can help my community. It shows that city kids can give back. We are not whatever y’all want to call us. We are actually helpful and able to give back to the community where we grew up.”
Patterson is a Nottingham graduate, and Stevens and Mitchell are Corcoran graduates. All three are Black men who are role models for the young men they interact with on a daily basis. Patterson and Mitchell also work as crisis intervention specialists in the Syracuse City School District.
“I’m blessed and I’m thankful for the things I’ve been through, the things I’ve seen,” Mitchell said. “So now it’s an opportunity for me to show these kids. They could be someone like me or they could be better than me when they get older.”
Even with Henninger and ITC coming together for positivity on Thursday, the sparks will most definitely be flying when these teams square off at noon on Saturday.
“On the field, it’s by any means necessary,” Torrence said. “We are going to do what we do and play our hearts out. But out here we are just two teams who want to give back to the community and show that we are more than just a football team. We’re also young children who want to help the community that gave back to us.”