Overbrook: Youth Football Program Guides Kids on the Field and Off the Streets

The Overbrook Monarchs are committed to teaching maturity and leadership to the youth through football.

(Colin Sommer/PN)

The Overbrook Monarchs Youth Football Program has been assisting children with learning the game of football over the last 17 years. Beyond football, the program strives to keep children off the streets and out of bad situations by keeping their academics in check. 

With crime rates rising from last year among juveniles in Philadelphia, the Overbrook community offers a program that allows children to play in a safe space. With coaches who care deeply about their players, the Monarchs football program has become a learning opportunity for children who join.

Bill Taylor, president of the Monarchs as well as a head coach, started out as a parent whose child joined the league. Since then, Taylor has actively assisted in helping the league grow.

“Just being out there showing something different for the kids has done a lot for this program, but also for the community,” Taylor said. “It’s become a place where kids can learn football, make friends with each other, and the whole community can come together to watch.”

One of the focuses of the Monarchs Football Program is to steer children clear from getting caught up in bad situations in Philadelphia. Taylor believes the program can be the difference in a child’s life.

“We want to keep kids off the streets and make sure they’re making the right choices,” Taylor said. “We have a lot of coaches here who dedicate their time to make sure that these kids don’t get caught up in any violence or anything that would put them in trouble.”

One way the program diverts their players’ attention away from violence is through academics. It is essential to the Monarchs that its players keep up with their schoolwork and maintain good grades.

The Overbrook Monarch Little Tykes team getting fired up before the game (Colin Sommer/PN)

“We have the kids and their parents bring their report cards to practices and the coaches will meet with them,” Daveeda White, the organization’s vice president, said. “It’s important to us that these kids get good grades so we can help send them to good high schools and colleges whether they play football or not.”

The program has seen young children play in the league for many years who have taken full advantage of what the organization offers. Some of those children are now playing Division 1 Football under academic and athletic scholarships.

Joshua Taylor, son of Bill Taylor and an Overbrook Monarchs alumnus who is now currently an offensive lineman for Mississippi Valley State University, played in the league when he was a child and recognizes how the program got him to college.

“This league actually made me care about school,” Taylor said. “The coaches will hold it over your head and let you know if you need to put more work into school. That’s something I learned at a young age. It’s always good to ask for help when you need it and I think that’s how I got to where I’m at.”

Aside from academics, the Monarchs also aim to build a large family through the program within the Overbrook community. It is essential to the organization that children view the coaches as role models as well as making friends with their teammates.

Coach Sonantonious Moore has witnessed the impact the coaches have on their own players. For many years now he and the other coaches have worked hard to maintain the Monarch’s mission statement of “making a difference in a young man’s life.”

“Some of these kids really look up to us and it’s important that we act as good parental figures for them,” Moore said. “it’s our job to teach these kids life lessons, help shape them into young men, and eventually send them off to school with something they can remember for a long time.”

The Little Tyke’s team and parents join for postgame snacks (Colin Sommer/PN)

Coaches across the league are aware many players have difficult home lives. They do what they can to provide distraction, fun, or relief for the youth. both on and off the field.

“There have been so many times where the kids have wanted to stay over my house and hang with each other as well as myself,” Taylor said. “If being a father figure is something that these kids need to help them succeed with football and other things in life, then that’s fine with me.”

Dion Jones, a parent of one of the football players, has seen the positive impact of his child playing in the league. He believes the Overbrook Monarchs offer the community a family where everyone can grow and succeed together.

“It’s a family man,” Jones said. “Sometimes we spend more days out here than we do in our own homes. Kids learn responsibility, how to be on time and how to prepare, and the coaches do a good job teaching the kids those things.”

Richard Carr, an alumnus who currently plays defensive back for the University of Maine, is another player who benefited from this league. The Monarchs have helped propel Carr in life in numerous ways. 

“The academics, coaches keeping us in check and out of trouble, and maturing at a young age has helped me get through a lot in my life,” Carr said. ‘The Monarchs were a family to me and still are. My old teammates, a lot I’m still friends with, and I still say ‘Monarchs for life’ whenever we see each other.”

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