CHICAGO - In the first column I wrote for WGNTV.com, I mentioned an appreciation for the better stories in the world of sports.
That's not always possible.
In its reflection of life as a whole, sports has it's good and its bad. Sometimes a little more of the latter, others a little more of the former.
But when an email arrived to my mailbox about a week ago, a chance to tell a good one was presented.
The story being told in this column is the one first emailed to me by Shereda Thomas of Calumet City. She wrote in to talk about a local football team that was in need of a little help off the field even if they needed little on it.
Thomas told the story of the Calumet City Thunderbolts, a highly successful youth football team that just won it's third-consecutive Chicagoland Pop Warner Football title. With that win along with a Regional championship, the Thunderbolts earned the right to play for the national championship at ESPN's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida from December 4-12.
A great story nonetheless, but it was Thomas' specific example that caught my eye. She mentioned her son, Marshawn Thomas, who was the second of her children to be on the Thunderbolts-a non-profit organization run by volunteers.
It wasn't his play on the field that was mentioned but rather his Grade Point Average. It was the only stat which Shereda brought up about Marshawn.
"My youngest son on the team now, was doing poorly in school, and with tutoring, and everything I could find, it just wasn't helping," wrote Thomas. "But after seeing his older brother, he has now made a complete turnaround."
That includes his grade point average nearly doubling since joining the team which now has a chance to win a national crown. But to get there, head coach Marcus Green and the team need some help.
The cost to get the 27 players and the staff to Orlando for the championship in the neighborhood of 30-thousand dollars. They've started a GoFundMe page to raise some funds for the trip and the shot at the championship. On Tuesday evening, Green along with players Christian Stevenson and DeAngelo Hudson came on CLTV's Sports Feed to discuss what their team is about and their need to raise money for the trip.
It wasn't just an appearance to ask for money for Green. It was his chance to tell Chicagoland about the organization's success on and off the field-and the one that matters the most.
"I preach being a student-athlete. You've got to have a 2.0 to play but I ask for 2.5-and I get that," said Green. "I've had kids who had 1.7's, now they're like 2.7, 3.0."
Proof of this came from that email that found its way into my mailbox that introduced me to this team which I'd never heard about. One that the players, coaches and volunteers try their hardest to be a positive part of the community.
"With so much tragedy and violence hitting at the core of our youth, this feel good story of triumph can make a difference in some other of our youths lives, and be what Chicago needs right now!!! They can be role models for others'!!!," said Thomas in her email.
But there are other teams out there that are doing the same as the Thunderbolts. I'd like to hear about them. Give me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if there is a team that needs their story told.