Vick helps bring new field to North Phila.

Team Vick Foundation, the philanthropic organization founded by Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, donated $200,000 to the revitalized home of the North Philadelphia Aztecs youth football team and Little Flower High School athletics. — PHOTO BY ABDUL SULAYMAN/CHIEF TRIBUNE PHOTOGRAPHER

It’s been a huge week for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. Chip Kelly, Eagles head coach, named Vick the starting quarterback for the season. Although that was big news for a lot of Eagles fans, it couldn’t top the special ceremony held at 900 West Hunting Park Ave. on Monday morning.

The Fairmount Park Conservancy in partnership with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Team Vick Foundation, the Philadelphia Eagles and other supporters dedicated Team Vick Field in North Philadelphia’s Hunting Park. The restoration of the football field to a state-of-the art multi-sport field is just a part of the Hunting Park Revitalization Project and is now the home for the North Philadelphia Aztecs youth football team and Little Flower High School athletics.

The $1.4 million project had a number of contributors. But the biggest one was the Team Vick Foundation, the philanthropic organization founded by Vick who donated $200,000. It’s always good to see the professional athletes in this town give something back to the inner city. Vick not only gave his money, but also gave his time. He signed numerous autographs for the kids, parents and several community members. Vick threw passes to some of the youngsters who play for the Aztecs.

It’s amazing what can be accomplished when people like Vick, corporate sponsors and city officials work together. The new field will make a big difference to the kids as well as the community. Speaking of the kids, that’s what makes it worthwhile when you see the smiles on their faces. The Aztecs have been located in Hunting Park for 19 years, but the team couldn’t play there because the field was in such bade shape.

Despite the lack of facilities, the Aztecs were still able to thrive under head coach Jeremiah Berry and his staff. The team has done some great things. The Pop Warner football team averages three championships a year. The Aztecs won the Pop Warner Super Bowl in 2004 becoming the first inner city team to achieve this championship.

But now, thanks to Vick and others the Aztecs have a great facility to play on. This will help them take their football program to another level. It will inspire a lot of youngsters to get involved with sports and in this case football rather than doing something negative in the community. “I hope the Hunting Park Aztecs [North Philadelphia] have a great season this year. I’ll be watching out for you guys. I’ll definitely come back and make sure everything is going the way it should be. If not, I’ll come out and coach,” Vick said.

This isn’t the first time Vick has been involved with youth activities. Since 2009, when he became a member of the Eagles he’s done a number of community events with kids in the city. Two years ago, he played chess with some of the city’s top scholastic players inside Lincoln Financial Field where they held a citywide chess tournament that day.

He has been the guest speaker at a lot of Philadelphia public schools. Moreover, he has done these events on his day off where he could have been doing something else. That speaks to his dedication for this community. He expressed those sentiments when he stepped to the podium during the dedication ceremony.

“Leaders of America embrace this,” Vick said. “Coaches who will be coaching these young kids embrace this. This belongs to you take it and run with it. On behalf of myself, my family, Team Vick organization, this was an awesome project to be involved with. From day one when I was asked about it, I was all in. My family was all in. The team was all in.

“Obviously, it takes a collective effort from a great group of people to make it work. Everybody you see on this stage we’ve come together and put this project together and this is where we stand right now. It’s a great day. I’ll never forget this. The city of Philadelphia has been great to me. I’ve always wanted to have a reason to give back and this is the reason. This is the reason why we have this field because I was able to make that contribution and do it the way that I wanted to do it with. You all should be thankful as well. I hope the Hunting Park Aztecs have a great season this year.”

 

Contact Staff Writer Donald Hunt at (215) 893-5719 or dhunt@phillytrib.com.

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