Withrow High School football coach Kali Jones embraced the month of June by taking some of his Tiger players on a bus.
It wasn’t just a subway or a yellow school bus. It was a trip of opportunity on a charter to the south.
NCAA college football recruiting was in full swing on June 1, Jones and Withrow met outside their football stadium on the last day of May, with a handful of players from the Dayton area. From there, 50 young people took to the road in search of new places.
Several boys had never been out of Ohio. Of Withrow’s 10, only four had left Cincinnati.
Instead of the Cincinnati Metropolitan Athletic Conference venues of Taft, Woodward, Western Hills, Aiken, Hughes, Shroder and more, this tour bus of a lifetime was heading to Mercer University (Macon, GA), Clemson, Caroline. South and the State of North Carolina.
We raised money for these guys to have an experience, Jones said. It’s part of our grand plan for our program; gather resources, build community relationships and provide opportunities to develop champions while winning championships. They are living the dream now!
Other schools have taken such trips, but seeing schools in ACC and SEC comes at a cost.
This is where volunteer Nicole Fredrick comes in.
Mother of daughters who went to Ursulines and Sainte-Ursule, she mentored a student from Withrow with her husband, Mike.
This was around the time the former Marine Jones was hired as a football coach for the team that had a winning record in 2013. When she appeared at a team meeting on behalf of the young man they were training, Jones asked if anyone could provide bread. . peanut butter and jelly for the boys during the camp.
For the sport of my daughter, we throw ourselves together for whoever arrives at the team lunch! said Frédéric. Hey, is that carriage ordering a loaf of bread?
Once Fredrick entered she was all-in.
She’s now practically a team mom for a roster full of Tigers. Another of his efforts was to get new uniforms for the team. Previously, she would collect her 4-year-old’s sweaty clothes on a Friday night, wash them, sew the holes and return them on Monday for the following week’s game.
His work has not gone unnoticed.
On Mother’s Day, I got eight random text messages from guys on the team, Fredrick said. ‘Happy Mother’s Day Ms. Nicole, we are so blessed to have you in our lives. Thank you.’ It warms my heart to help them. I will move mountains because of genuine appreciation.
Helping pay for Withrow’s prospects in their summer camp campaign is an annual golf outing, the Withrow Tiger Classic. Others donated money and / or time. Players only had to bring $ 50 to cover some of their own expenses. Football or no football, it was an opportunity to experience what had not happened before.
Fredrick saw the sparkles in the eyes of the players who recognized the value and rewards of hard work. Jones is tough on his kids, but with love. For those who cannot play college ball, their path may be to the military, a Division II school, or a business school. The main thing is to plan for the next stage in their life after they graduate with Withrow.
They respond and don’t want to disappoint you, says Fredrick. They know how badly you fight for him.
At Mercer, several of the players turned heads, while at Clemson, the combined teams got to see world-class facilities and meet Dabo Swinney and the staff. Swinney led the ACC Tigers to national championships in 2016 and 2018. Each player received a Clemson thong that included their names.
These guys think they’re dead and gone to heaven, Fredrick said. They’re incredibly excited to just experience it, walk around, and feel like they’re rightfully part of something. It can really change your life!
A sports performance organization called Enhance U of Dayton also helps with travel. It is led by Tramain Hall, who played for the State of North Carolina and briefly in the NFL. Hall and Jones trained together at Huber Heights Wayne High School. Wayne, Xenia, Northmont, Springfield, Tecumseh and Centerville also joined the trip looking to show off their skills.