Warriors Football Program And Long History Comes To End Because of Coronavirus pandemic

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

Youth sports is also feeling the hurt of the Coronavirus pandemic in New York and suburban areas of the country.  Little League Baseball operations have been suspended until further notice and other organized sports leagues for boys and girls.

High school schedules have been wiped away this spring. When the new school year adjourns in September, it is becoming a guessing game as to when organized leagues will resume.

The latest casualty of this pandemic has probably seen the end of the Warriors Football Club and leaves a legacy of 68 years here in the Bronx and Manhattan.

If the club does not resume operations, and it seems unlikely, the legacy of the program and history will always be attributed to Jerry Demers.

He will celebrate his 82d birthday Friday at his home in Pelham Bay and in isolation.  Born in Manhattan, Demars, a former Bronx Parks Chief of Recreation for the NYC Parks and Recreation Department,  has been instrumental in seeing many of his youngsters advance to established high school and college football programs.

The aim for the Warriors was playing organized football and the emphasis was always that aspect of staying in school and earning that diploma or degree.

“The way they’re talking we’ll  miss this year and have nobody to fall back on next year,” said Demers.

“ The coach” as he was named, was looking at the numbers. A vaccine for the Coronavirus is months away and enrollment for the program was dwindling the past few years. It takes time to recruit and sign new members. 

Safety has always been a priority with the Warriors and there was no tackling under the belt and over the years not one concussion on the field was on record.  The program that depends on public funding, fundraising, donations, and community support had 200 members last year.

Most,  if not all league games,  have been played at Pelham Bay Park from August to early November with  teams in the Pee-Wee division to those entering their freshman year at high school. 

There is always hope for a revival of this football program. Coaches and parents volunteer their time and a cheerleading program for girls had also become very popular. 

But this pandemic has changed the complexion of sports and organized programs for youth. 

“Started in 1952 when I was 14.” Demers said. “Just a block team in Manhattan and played pickup games. Then we took it to the Bronx. No kids, schools are closed, and  we can’t pass out flyers There is no way to get in touch with them “

 He added, “If  there are no schools, there is no word of mouth. We used to hold groups from the neighborhood who came out because they knew each other.”

Basically, this was a youth football program that developed an outstanding reputation over the years and with lots of success. Many participants pursued college degrees and successful careers. 

The conclusion of the Warriors, as Demers said, “weakens youth sports further. But I had no choice.”

Had there been no global health crisis as this one, and though Demers was limiting his role, he would have still been on the sidelines in late August.  

Now it’s all about the memories and success that made more than one youngster happy in the Bronx and other boroughs of New York City. 

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