Coach Tim Hall, a native of Garfield Park, knows all too well the challenges the kids on his Chicago-based football team face on a daily basis. Gang violence isn’t something they read about or see on TV — they live it.
On Aug. 25, the Garfield Park Gators football family lost one of their own when former player Lavander Hearnes, 14, was shot just blocks from his home and the field where Hall holds practice.
“They weren’t shooting at him, but he got caught in the crossfire,” Hall said. “He never even got to start high school. The kids have been kind of down this year, and we are trying to honor him and get a football team down to Florida (for nationals).”
That’s where the St. Raphael football program comes in. Wednesday night they welcomed the Chicago youth team to a friendly competition.
Hall brought two teams of players in grades five through eight to Naperville for the gridiron matchup arranged by St. Raphael program president Jim Brown.