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 RESTART Gives JCCS Students A Chance To Compete, As Long as Grades, Behavior Meet Standards

​Sounds of cheering, voices of screaming coaches and plenty of laughter recently filled the Southeast San Diego Jackie Robinson YMCA during the 3rd Annual RESTART Flag Football Championship.

“I’m so proud of my cousin,” said Tannet S., referring to Juvenile Court and Community School (JCCS) student Kevin T., who was competing in the RESTART game. (Both of the students’ last names were withheld because of their status with the Juvenile Court).

“Since joining RESTART he’s been doing really well in school,” Tannet continued, “and he recently got a job as a Teacher’s Assistant at his school.”

Coaches, family members and friends joined more than 50 JCCS students at the RESTART championship, which matched the Thurgood Marshall and McPhatter JCCS locations against one another. For the competitors, it was a rare opportunity for organized, school-sanctioned sports. And according to organizers, the value of RESTART extends well beyond the playing field.

“This is an outlet for them,” said Suzanne Williford, RESTART’s creator, director and driving force. “I see the sports leagues as kind of a microcosm of life in general. If they can maintain and display anger management techniques in the heat of athletic competition, they can function in the real world.”

This year’s RESTART championship was extra special for Williford, who retired after teaching in the County Office of Education’s JCCS system for 21 years.

RESTART was designed so that JCCS students could have the same opportunities to participate in extracurricular athletic programs as students in traditional schools. The program takes place four days a week at the Jackie Robinson YMCA, where high school-age JCCS boys and girls participate in athletics, academic tutoring, community service, and other activities, as long as their grades and behavior allow them. In addition to boys football the program also offers basketball and indoor soccer to both boys and girls.

Thurgood Marshall and McPhatter, both part of the JCCS Metro region, went head to head for the 1st place trophy. San Diego police captain Tony McEvoy served as an official for the game and Jackie Robinson YMCA Executive Director Michael Brunker was the public address announcer. After a tough and well-matched battle, McPhatter earned the championship by a final score of 20-12.

“The RESTART Program has been a very rewarding and uplifting experience, not only for the students but for myself as well,” said Tyrone Johnson, Program/League Coordinator of RESTART. “The confidence and physical strength of the students has definitely improved over the course of the program,” said Johnson. “It’s great to see them playing as a team on the field as well as off.”

Entertainment was provided for students and fans prior to the game by the coaches and administrators scrimmage against former RESTART students who have now graduated. Metro Region Principal Tracy Thompson and teacher Scott Kreinberg were among the staff members, battling the RESTART alums to a 28-28 tie. “Given the age difference, I think we played well,” said Matheno Landers, a teacher in the JCCS North Region. “This is a great way to spend time with the kids and really see them bring out their competitive side.”

In addition to McPhatter and Thurgood Marshall, other JCCS sites taking part in the 2008 Flag Football League were Iris, Chula Vista, National City, Escondido, Reflections East, Choice, Sports Academy and South Bay Tech Academy.

For more information on RESTART, contact the JCCS office at 858-571-7258.