These youngster were a part of the 2008 Wolf Pack Junior Pee Wee football team that made it to a national competition, representing Sparks.
“That’s something that’s never been done in the city of Sparks,” team mom Mary Munsterman said.
The team won regionals and went on to the national competition in Florida, where the mini Wolf Packers placed third in the nation.
When the team returned home from the tournament, the Wolf Pack parents took the team’s accomplishments and were referred to the Sparks Youth Foundation. There the team made a proposal for of a plaque to honor. Munsterman said the last time a team was given a plaque for competing at a national level was in the mid 1990s.
“It’s been a long time,” Munsterman said. “This was the first football team. They sponsored us the plaque and we had an unveiling ceremony.”
Mayor Geno Martini attend the ceremony. He recognized the team, made a speech and provided an official document with the city seal on it.
“It’s great,” Martini said. “Something like this is the good part about my job. I’d never get to do something like this if I wasn’t the mayor.”
This particular group of kids have been playing together for five or six years. Many of them competed as a team together this year and also went to nationals.
“It’s really good because me and my team are going to be in Sparks history for all time and it’s a really good feeling,” Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Willis said.
“They love it,”Munsterman said. “They know that no one’s done it before. … (We’re) proud of the work they did. They’re good kids off the field and this is something that they’ll take forever. They’ll be able to show their kids.”
Munstermann and other parents sometimes wonder if the kids understand how big their accomplishment was. They even beat a team from Texas.
“Beat Texas and football’s a religion to Texas,” she said. “It’s a big deal. Sometimes we wonder gosh are they going to realize when they’re older what they did?”
When the Wolf Pack made it to nationals, the team asked the community for help because the trip was expensive. Since the community came to the team’s aid, the team has responded and helped out around the community.
Players and parents helped during the holiday season by providing food and volunteer work at Evelyn Mount and with the Big Brothers – Big Sisters.
The coaches and parents have tried to instill in these kids the importance of community and charity, as well as commitment to football, sports and education.
“Sports and competition is back bone of this country,” Martini said. “They learned to be on time, practice, commit — an experience that a lot of kids won’t get to have.”
Willis agrees that it has been a good learning experience for him so far.
“It feels really good and it means a lot because people actually care and they were rooting for us the entire time,” Willis said.
Willis and his team will all split up next year as many head on to other sports and other levels of football. Another thing the squad boasts is good sportsmanship and was rewarded for it, taking a first place award for their kindness.
“You play hard, hit hard dominate, but when we knock them down we pick them back up,” Munsterman said.