Football is more than just X’s and O’s. It’s a family. And for some players, it’s an opportunity to have mentors in their lives they wouldn’t experience otherwise.
The Lake Worth Community High School Trojans have a whole second team of support behind them: a full-blown mentoring program from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
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“Coach loves you. We love you. No one is going to hold you accountable except people who care about you,” PBSO Sgt. John Navarro recently told members of the school’s football team.
A few inspirational words from Navarro to his adopted football team, the Lake Worth Trojans.
“The most important thing for us is we are building a rapport,” Navarro told WPTV education reporter Stephanie Susskind. “They are seeing us as humans and we are seeing them as human beings, also. And were meeting at a level that we all understand, which is football.”
It all started with team mom and PBSO employee Robyn Jean.
“They are showing up weekly to talk to our kids and to save them and make sure they arent another statistic,” Jean said.
Jean invited Sgt. Navarro to speak to the players about opportunities outside football, but didn’t expect what happened next.
“Just one little thing, one little act, and its just mushroomed and gotten bigger and bigger,” Navarro said.
Now, Palm Beach County deputies are a constant presence before practice, talking all sorts of topics and supporting the team with new cleats, water sprayers, and more.
“In my history coaching, I’ve never had a group of officers from any law enforcement agency that have taken the time to invest in our young men,” said Lake Worth High School head football coach Robert Nichols.
Nichols said this mentorship is making a big impact, both on and off the field.
“Encouraging our young men to not view police from a negative standpoint, or as a threat, or, Im always looking back when I see the officers. Just being more comfortable in the presence of an officer,” Nichols said.
And though a little intimated at first, the players are seeing the value of the badge in their corner.
“Sometimes I feel like theres nobody else. Its just us. But when you see people coming in and donating and just helping, it warms your heart and makes you keep on going,” senior Nashaughn Braynen said.
“It’s been amazing,” sophomore Chandler Powell added. “I feel like its strengthening our bond with PBSO, and thats what we need. They teach us a lot of things and mentor us in ways we havent been mentored.”
This new relationship is proving the power of someone who shows they care is stronger than any hit on the field.
“Giving back, it’s a blessing,” Navarro said.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is also getting the Lake Worth High School football players involved in a number of community service activities, and plans to continue building on this relationship with the team for years to come.