Three members of the North Philly Blackhawks 2010 Pop Warner national football championship team stood in their black-and-gold-lettered jackets Monday on a green field with clear lines of white.
Four years ago these three young men — Keith Moorison, Qashah Carter, and Najee Richburg — were bashing and thrashing on a brown field spotted with patches of green.
Qashah, 16, gazed across the artificial playing surface illuminated by stadium lighting, considering a question: If they played here while fighting for the championship, would it have helped their chances?
“It would have been nice,” said Qashah, 16, “but it wouldn’t have made a difference.”
The field at 11th and Cecil B. Moore in the heart of North Philadelphia and Temple University’s campus unveiled $2.5 million renovation Monday afternoon, the first in the team’s 45-year history.
The brown-stained grass field was replaced with artificial turf. New field goal posts and a scoreboard were installed, along with new paving, fencing and landscaping. The baseball field in the southeast corner was also renovated, along with the restrooms and locker rooms.
If the Blackhawks won without the new digs, what will they do with them? Coach Keon Savoy knows: “Now we don’t have to cancel practice because of the rain,” he said, “it’s going to be a machine.”
The fields will be shared between the Blackhawks and St. Joe’s Prep High School athletic teams, which contributed money along with the City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Philadelphia Eagles. Temple University offered a small donation, but it was not accepted, an official said.
But despite the new digs, the three players said it can’t change the desire to win, but maybe it can instill a sense of pride.
“They can learn to appreciate something and feel pride,” said Keith, 17, “seeing that team name on the field and coming from playing on dirt piles to a turf field.”
“It will motivate them,” Qashah added, “because they can see what happens when you really work for something.”
Savoy, who played for the team as a teen, said those who tried to force the team out of its home turf were on the wrong sideline.
“They didn’t believe,” he said.