Three years ago, Kensington football coach Ellwood Erb had a vision. His vision was to have Friday Night Lights under the El stop at Front and Berks streets.
Three years later, the vision has been put into action … but there’s still a long way to go.
“This isn’t the NFL, this isn’t college, we’re a public-league, high-school football team with rocks and glass on our field,” said Erb. “We have little equipment, but what we do have is a ton of heart and a ton of pride.”
Days before Kensington embarked on its second season last September, Erb was busy using buckets of paint to cover up a graffiti-defaced wall that hovers over their practice field. In its place was going to be another piece of his vision: a gigantic Kensington Tiger football mural.
Erb was approached by Max Pulcini, who was covering a story for the Fishtown Spirit.
“He told me, ‘This is our second season. We went 8-1 in our first season. We have no funding from the city or state. We run this program with zero dollars,'” said Pulcini. “There was a little bit of money donated by the district when it first started, but just enough to get kids practice pants, which in football terms is like nothing … The majority of the money comes right out of coach Erb’s pockets.”
After a two-hour conversation with Erb, Pulcini had his own vision and he decided to make their next season into a documentary.
Pulcini, a journalism student at Temple, didn’t have too much videography experience. He asked his friend, Matt Albasi, a video production guru, if he could help. Albasi fell in love with the human side of the story.
“These kids are from Kensington. They don’t get movies made about them,” he said. “We allowed for these kids to feel a sense of importance and self worth. A lot of these kids do come from broken homes and do come from non-existent families, but when they were with us they felt important. That was one of our other goals with this project, making these kids feel important because every kid deserves to feel important.”
Pulcini and Albasi have worked tirelessly over the past eight months on the documentary, while Erb has continued to do everything he can to advance the program. Pulcini hopes the documentary can change the status quo of Kensington.
“When you hear about Kensington, you hear about drugs, gangs, violence and murder,” said Pulcini. “What we discovered was loving and supportive families. Families that want nothing more than to see their kids succeed. We also saw kids who were trying to reach their dreams. Kids who are sending in their applications and hoping to further their education and get out.”