Reunification party for Sparta youth football

Nerds rock Mohawk House for Spartans and Bears

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  • From left, State Sen. Steven Oroho, Mohawk House Proprietor Steve Scro and Nerds lead singer Jim Garcia Photos by Leslie Sullivan

  • Sussex Stags Dance Team shows it support of Sussex County Youth Football & Cheerleading. From left, Director Kari Brantner, Assistant Director Cary Holm, Captain Tamara S. and Alycia D.

  • Key players in the league's reunification. From left, League Treasurer Chris Purdue, Head Coach Ross Richardson, Advisethe Nerdsr Josh Hertzberg, Co-Director of Cheer Judy Zimmerman, Director of Cheer Katherine Leo, President Tim Lindsay, Player Advocate ‘Coach V,’ and Director of Fields Mark Pryce. Those not pictured include: Vice President Doug Brancey, Secretary Karen Killen, League Representative Lou Tackis, Head Team Mom Natalie Tackis, Assistant Team Mom Kristine Szabo, Assistant Team Mom Karina Hein and Player Advocate Chris Hantson.

  • The Nerds

  • The guests at the feast


— As Peaches & Herb have tunefully told us: Reunited, and it feels so good.

That kind of good feeling was in the air last Friday night at the Mohawk House, with a get-together to celebrate the reuniting of the township's two youth football leagues.

The Sussex County Football & Cheer programs began in 1957 and this year celebrated its 60th anniversary. However this year is especially important as it marks the reuniting of two football teams, the Sparta Spartans and the Bears. The event was hosted and made possible by Steve Scro, owner of the Mohawk House and Eric Nielson of Franklin Sussex Auto Mall.

“It’s very important to be involved in the community. It takes a lot of money to start a new season. Steve and I thought it was important to host this event for the kids of Sparta,” said Nielson.

The reuniting of the Sparta Spartans and Bears will bring the tackle football teams number to 250, making them one of the largest teams in the state. The Sussex County Football and Cheer program has 100 flag players and 120 cheerleaders. The program is for children kindergarten – 8th grade.

“I’d like to think we are the greatest football team in the state of New Jersey,” Head Coach Ross Richardson said.

The football teams are broken down into grades, two 8th grade teams, one 7th grade team, one 6th grade team, one 5th grade team, two 4th grade teams, two 3rd grade teams and two Rumble teams (1st & 2nd grade). “It’s all about dedication and discipline. There are no easy roads, the harder you work the more you succeed,” said State Sen. Steven Oroho (R-Sussex).

The program costs around $60,000.00 a year to keep up and running.

“We are so grateful for what Steve did tonight. He says he’s doing this for Sparta Football but he’s doing this for all of the kids in town. It’s very expensive to keep a program going and with the money that we are going to receive tonight is going to help,” said Tim Lindsay, president of the Sussex County Sparta Spartans Football.

This expense typically includes renting out space, referees, uniforms and equipment, camp among other things.

“Steve (Scro) is doing this out of simply wanting to help the community," said Sparta Youth Cheerleading Co-Director Judy Zimmerman. "All of our profit is generated through registration fees, which is not much. This fundraising event will help us cover camp fees, new equipment, and much more.”

Although other athletic teams in Sparta were not split, football was. This split caused unnecessary town tension between parents and children.

“The town was split. Every other sport in town the kids play together except football. They don’t play together again until high school and that was because of the split of the Bears vs. Sparta Spartans,” Lindsay said. “I’m excited to have them all back together. For me I had my kid who had friends on both teams and it was tough because in school they would split at lunch Bears vs. Sparta creating an needless rivalry and there was no reason for it because after football season they’d go to wrestle together or play basketball together. For years we have been trying to get the teams back together and this year I was finally able to do just that.”

“This year we are going to be showing our unity with Sparta High School and all of the kids from 1st to 12th grade will have the same uniform." Lindsay said. "I wanted to do that to show that we are all in unity together. And now when all the kids go and watch Sparta High School games this year they’ll be wearing the same jerseys as the kids on the field,”

Senator Oroho summed up the night: “Community coming together, there’s nothing better. You can’t go wrong there.”

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