HOMETOWN HERO | Portsmouth Soldiers coaching staff

Published: Aug. 8, 2019 at 10:50 PM EDT
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Youth league football coaches sacrifice many hours to help kids learn the game and learn lessons they can carry with them the rest of their lives.

Football season started Monday for the Portsmouth Soldiers.

Parents nominated the Soldiers coaching staff, saying their dedication to the team exceeds what's expected of them.

"The kids get a lot of family structure here," parent Joe Ohrstrom said.

Parents say the coaches are known to pay for pads and registration fees when families of players can't afford to.

The coaches took the kids to a Cincinnati Bengals family day.

"They (the coaches) paid for the vans, paid for everything," Ohrstrom said.

"They're really nice, and they're really good coaches," 11-year-old running back Marquez Locklear said. "They take us out to eat. They took us to the Bengals game. They really just do a lot for us."

Former Portsmouth Trojan Michael Parker, who went on to play for Bowling Green, says it's important to provide something positive for the kids in an area that's seen so many young lives derailed by the drug epidemic.

"I've been through some situations in life, and I'm just trying to give back and hopefully put the kids on the right path," Coach Parker said. "Being in this area here, it's easy to get into the wrong things, but as long as they've got something to keep them accountable and something where they can go and have fun with other kids, it may boost the percentages of them staying out of the wrong situations or getting in trouble."

While the young players won't be carrying the coaches off the field any time soon, it's not for a lack of appreciation.