Against overwhelming odds and a host of challenges, the CI Warriors always came out on top. With 54 students and 6 coaches, the team got off to a late start, yet remained at 2nd place all season long. Because most of the team was from single-parent homes, the coaches oftentimes stood in to provide not only guidance, but transportation, discipline and a listening ear. The team is broken into two age groups: 8-10 and 11 -12. Headed by Shawn White, formerly of the San Diego Riptides, he and the team’s other 5 volunteer coaches were all devoted to pouring their very selves into the students, grooming them for success both on and off the field.

Sonja Eskridge, mother of 11 year old teammate Cameron Eskridge, raves about the devotion Shawn and the other coaches showed to the children on the team. Although the CI Warriors was not Cameron’s first experience with football, it was the first time he understood and fell in love with the game. “Shawn and Coach Eric taught Cameron more than standing on the line and blocking,” says Eskridge. “They actually taught him why he was doing what he was told to do, and it made all the difference. He now loves football because he finally understands it. Now he knows that he can win.” Although Cameron would love to see more funding for uniforms, he says his favorite moment was when he got his very first touchdown.

William McDowell, a 10 year old teammate believes the experience helped him grow academically and as a person. His mother, Joy McDowell, tells of how much more responsible and dedicated her son has become because of his experience on the team. A single mom, she noticed her son would listen to the coaches, take it to heart, and not only apply their advice, but teach it to his little brother. “There are youth that aren’t being exposed to things that Children International has given my son the ability to participate in.” She is grateful for the program and the dedication the coaches showed in going out of their way to help the children involved.

This was the second year for the CI Warriors and this year the team was supported by the CI Warrior Cheerleaders. Although it was started just for fun, Joy McDowell also noted how much her cousin, a member of the cheerleading team, had a lot of fun being involved. “It taught the girls rhythm and responsibility. They are looking forward to next year.”, The CI Warriors function entirely from sponsorship funds. Two of the team’s coaches also had children on the team, and Benson Chu, a team favorite, is UALR-CI’s current Deputy Director. Melody Moore and Vicki Disney, also of UALR-CI, joined the collective effort that went into making this year a success. “I am so thankful for the contribution everyone made to the team.” Says Shawn White, “ I could not have gotten anything accomplished without them.”



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