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Oak Cliff leaders discuss violence at youth sporting events

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Panelists discussed how coaches and organizations can get along better with conflict resolution alternatives.

DALLAS — Local leaders, coaches and parents gathered in Oak Cliff on Saturday to talk about the issues plaguing youth sports in North Texas and how to prevent violence from happening on and off the field.

The rally comes a week after a shooting at a Lancaster youth football game left coach Mike Hickmon dead.

According to the arrest affidavit, police say it started with an argument over the score of the game.

Saturday’s town hall was called “Call to Action” and had a panel made up of local leaders from many different fields and organizations. The panel discussed how coaches and organizations can get along better with conflict resolution alternatives. Parents also had time to ask questions to the panel.

Panelist Karen Reese created a sports talk show called “Can We Talk” which is hosted by mothers of athletes. She said the first type of action that should be taken is more involved parenting at home.

“Parents choose which team, which sport, which coach teaches our children,” Reese said. “I think as parents we need to take a more active role in who we allow to mentor and teach our children.”

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Panelist Kevin Bennett has been a registered football referee for nine years. He said there needs to be more respect for each other at all levels. Panelist Tony X, who said he was a former inmate, echoed Bennet’s message.

“Love is a verb that shows action,” said Tony X. “When we love our children and when we love our community, then we can do better for ourselves, our people and our community. Look at the beyond yourself and think of your brother and sister.”

Community leader and panelist Terrence Randolph said there should be no tobacco or alcohol at any of these games. He also said there needed to be more police presence and more protective measures taken.

“We need more security,” Randolph said. “Metal detectors. Of course we need police officers to patrol the matches and not just to attend the matches.”

Panelist Gary Cochran leads a ministry called “Cover Dallas with Love.” He focused more on the need for different groups and organizations to build better relationships with each other before tragedies occur.

“Show up and be present,” Cochran said. “It’s so that we can build relationships and learn and grow together. We can do that. But also when bad things happen or tragedy happens, we don’t show up as strangers. We show up like friends, sisters and brothers, people who already know each other, and connect together.

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Panelist Raymond Alford is the owner of the Big 12 Youth Sports League, which the organization says provides a college-like experience for teams, coaches and players. He said he had spoken with league officials and that the rules and laws on school grounds and on football pitches needed to be better understood and enforced.

“So if I know you’re not allowed to have your gun on school property, I don’t care if you have a permit or not — you have to go,” Alford said, as a ‘example. “I’m going to find an officer. We want to give our kids a safe place. We want to give them a safe environment. When people bring street environments into what’s supposed to be a safe place for kids, they don’t have no need to be part of what we do.”

Many panelists brought up the idea of ​​creating a coalition of local youth leaders from different sports and organizations.

Panelist Tabitha Wheeler-Reagan, who runs the nonprofit Village Bridge Center, said once parents and local leaders can work out the details of what it would look like and who would be involved, she wants to submit it. to the Dallas City Council and formally endorse the coalition.

“We can’t wait any longer for something tragic to happen,” Wheeler-Reagan said. “The tragedy is every time there is something impure around our children. Our children lead by example. We are responsible for every child we come into contact with.”

After further questions from parents, panelist Terry Mayo X, who is a former professional baseball and football player, said he would like this potential coalition to start organizing events and gatherings for young athletes in the city are spending more time together off the pitch. so that they bond beyond the teammates of each player’s respective team.

“What if we were to come together and collaborate with different events and different organizations in the different leagues?” said Terry Mayo X. “With different organizations that are not like you so that we can do more things together. It’s because unity is more powerful than anything in this world. It’s more powerful than the atomic bomb itself. So if we were to come together and unify more knowing just because your logo or your name is different, we are still playing on the same team. We are playing on the same team of life.