Players on this football team often face hard times. Here's how their coaches are helping.
Families don't have to look any one way.
Neil Prescot didn't have the easiest time growing up.
His mom, Tia, raised him as a single parent, and they often struggled to make ends meet. They had to pack up and move pretty regularly, which left Neil without a stable sense of home.
Thankfully, when his home life situation became difficult, he had friends from the football team step up and offer him what they could.
“I didn’t really know much about Neil’s situation, but I just knew he needed a place to stay," says Edgar Geurrero, one of Neil's friends. “He’s pretty much family to me. He’s another brother.”
Edgar (left) and Neil (right) at Edgar's house. All photos via Upworthy.
And Neil's far from the only athlete at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, Maryland who's experienced tough times like this. Coach Kim is all too familiar with these types of stories.
“I’ve had a kid evicted the night before a game," Kim says. "I think about that, and god, that’s heartbreaking." Kim would often wonder if his players were food insecure, or afraid their family wasn't going to make rent. He knows it can't be easy not to know where you're going to live the next week.
However, Neil rarely alludes to the issues that he's facing. When he's at practice, he's there to play football, probably because it's a welcome respite from everything else.
On the team, Neil's a linebacker on defense and a kicker with special teams, but he's also someone the other players look up to. He's a leader.
"His teammates really do watch him, and those who do know his story really take him to heart," says Bryn Crower, one of the team's athletic trainers.
Neil (center) with his teammates.
But football hasn't just made him a leader among his teammates. Neil's learning the importance of giving back to the community thanks to his coaches.
Coach McCabe does motivational workshops with the team every Wednesday, and coach Ali's been getting the players involved with coat drives and other community service activities. It's all to help remind them that they can make a huge impact if they just try a little harder and give a bit more.
“We try to help the community as much as we can," says Neil.
These endeavors also help unify the team. It's such a comforting environment for kids like Neil who may not have the same experiences at home.
And through it all, they have coaches and teachers who root for them as if they were their own kids.
"He’s an awesome kid, he really is," says Crower about Neil. "And I hope everybody here takes a little piece of Neil and just keeps it close to their heart, and they can grow and try to be like him as well."
To learn more about Neil's story, check out this clip: