Kalamazoo community pitches in to help team go to national championship

Posted at 8:35 PM, Dec 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-25 23:21:18-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich.-- Jahymier Wilkins wants to be a doctor when he grows up, but as a member of the Kalamazoo Vikings rocket football team, he's bound Dallas.

The team and coaches boarded a bus Christmas Day and headed for the national championship game

"At first I didn't know we had to have a good education to play football," said Wilkins.

The 10 year old's aspirations come from the Viking's team motto: "Hard work, dedication, homework, education."

Vikings football coach, Johnnie Berry, holds his players accountable with study tables and keeps tabs on their grades.

"I live in a city of 75,000 people, and there's 26,000 blacks," Berry said. "The majority of these kids do not graduate, and they're not using the promise. I want to make sure these 20 kids who walked in the fashion show, they want to be doctors, they want to be teachers, they want to be architects, and they want to be police officers. I want to make sure that I follow and track these kids and make sure they follow their dreams. We aren't just talking about it, we're being about it."

But as the saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child." The Kalamazoo community helped the team raise more than $20,000 for their trip to the national championship held in Dallas,Texas. Even the Kalamazoo Police stepped in to help.

"We protect and serve them, so it's important that we build a relationship with them at the age they are now," said Executive Lieutenant Stacey Randolph. "We want to foster something positive in light of everything that's going on. We want them to know they can come to us if they need anything."

You can follow the Vikings on Facebook to track their progress through the national championship.