The Harvey Colts Jr. Football and Cheer Association has been through a lot this year.

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The Harvey Colts Jr. Football and Cheer Association has been through a lot this year.

The youth organization has experienced the highs of traveling to Disney World and winning championships.

They’ve also experienced the devastating lows of learning that two longtime, dedicated volunteer coaches, Frank Brassell and Echford Cooper, were brutally murdered at their south suburban home in mid-April.

Through it all, the kids, the adults and the entire community were somehow able to persevere.

“In response to this tragedy, said volunteer Trelane Grayson, the community can react with violence or it can react with hope. “The youth athletes and coaches of the Harvey Colts reacted with hope.”

The Mitey Mite team, which consists of 7, 8 and 9 year olds finished the 2011 season with a perfect record and received an invitation to the Pop Warner Super Bowl. The Pee Wee and Midget team as well as the cheerleader and dance team also won conference championships that earned them a trip to Orlando, Fla. to compete for a national championship this month.

Grayson, who has a son and daughter participating in the Harvey Colts and acts as the “team mom” doing everything from washing uniforms to giving out hugs after events, praised the children for overcoming adversity to turn a setback into a positive outcome.

That drive was something the kids embraced from the example set back Brassell and Cooper who volunteered more than a decade with the youth organization before their deaths.

“They were like father figures to those kids,” said Grayson. “They were timeless and priceless.”

Cooper, 45, who was wheelchair-bound due to complications as a result of diabetes, still found the will to make every game and every practice. “He was always out there,” according to those who knew him.

The same can be said of Brassell. The 50-year-old always displayed pride in the Colts as evidenced by the large team logo embedded on the body of his SUV.

Mothers, fathers, former athletes and even public officials made the Harvey Colts what they have been since 1962, an organization with a national reputation that has relied on outside donations to support the ventures of the kids.

The group that has a rich history of success on the field as well as off the field, where kids are expected to maintain a 2.0 GPA to participate in all the activities.

“It’s always been a family-oriented,” Grayson said about the unit that has produced multiple NFL players over the years. “No one wants to let it go.”

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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