One player’s family keeps Kennedy JV alive

on October 27, 2009

The crowd that watched John F. Kennedy High School’s junior varsity football team play Piedmont High on Thursday could have fit in an AC Transit bus. Half the 50 fans were one player’s family.

“We love you, Bobby!” 16-year-old Shanice Robinson yelled from the front row of the bleachers.

Robinson, a Kennedy senior, held a sign she made supporting her cousin, Bobby Henderson, a sophomore and the team’s captain. A handful of other cousins waved similar signs.

Each week, the family members call around and remind each other about Henderson’s football game. A few dozen of them – his sister, his mom, aunts, uncles and cousins – attend every home game, and most away games too. Most of them come from Richmond, but some travel from Oakland and Stockton as well. Sometimes Grandma comes, but she wasn’t feeling up to it this week.

“You got to have family support,” Henderson’s mother, Regina Y. Reed, said. “You got to support the kids.”

Reed joined her nieces and nephews, many of them Kennedy students, in rooting for her son.

“Get them,” Reed yelled during a play. “Ohhh, that was pretty.”

Reed wore a shirt with her son’s name and number on the back – No. 3. On the front, it read, “Kennedy Football: Some wish for it. We work for it!”

The JV players need to work hard if they want to play next year, not only on the field, but on their grades and physical health, too. Kennedy’s varsity team was axed this week because there weren’t enough eligible players due to grades and injuries. Reed said her son will likely transfer schools next year if he can’t play varsity football at Kennedy, but she wants to keep him at Kennedy with his cousins.

“The Raiders won a game. You all can do it too,” she yelled to the team.

Kennedy’s JV team hasn’t won a game this season. It lost on Thursday 21-8. But Henderson’s sister wasn’t discouraged.

“I would be happy even if they lose because you know they be trying,” said Christina Parker, Henderson’s sister and a junior at Kennedy.

Parker said she looks forward to game days. She and her mom are arguably the biggest cheerers in the family. Some of the girls showed off their cheerleading skills on Thursday.

“Knock ‘em down. Roll ‘em around. Come on defense, work!” they said in sync.

Henderson seemed serious and reserved after the game, but said his family’s cheering gets him excited. A slight yet explosive 15-year-old, he starts as defensive back or wide receiver mostly. He scored the team’s only touchdown Thursday.

“That’s my baby,” his mother yelled proudly while doing a short victory dance after the play.

Coach Mack Carminer, a 1996 Kennedy graduate, said the JV team hasn’t finished its last three seasons. The team has not had enough players mostly due to bad grades and injuries. He said he appreciates anyone who shows up to root for the team.

“I wish we could fill up the stands like they were when I played here,” he said.

He can count on Henderson’s family every week.

“If we weren’t here,” Parker said. “There wouldn’t be a crowd.”

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