After a day of heavy downpour, students and residents alike began trickling into the Marcus Foster Memorial Stadium. The football players of Simon Gratz Mastery Charter School prepared for their practice with warm ups and drills to get started.
Athletic Director Erik Zipay said he sees himself as a mentor for the players. “In order to play, the players need above a 76 percent average and have study hall,” he said.
For the players who have been training since March, Zipay said their nutrition is very important. “The main thing is making sure they eat.”
Isaiah Lewi, a liberal arts student at Montgomery County Community College brought his little brother to the track because he said he wants him to focus on his health. “I heard Philadelphia has the highest obesity rate in the country.”
Liew said he also has some family members who are affected by obesity. He emphasized the importance of eating right and exercising, something that he learned from his family.
“My cousin got me involved with boxing and exercising and motivated me to get better grades. I want to do the same for my little brother and I hope he’ll one day pass it on.”
The field gives the community a chance to unify in a secure environment. Students see Zipay as an authoritative figure and friend. He delegates and also lends a helping hand in both educational and personal matters.
“This is a safe space that’s drug free. I open up the field early in the morning for community use. Football and track use the field and during the day kindergarten and preschool use it,” he said.