After an undefeated season, the Federal Way Hawks 10U Bantams junior football team is on a quest to compete at the Pro Football Hall of Fame World Youth Championships.
The Hawks wrapped up league play last weekend with the 10U team going undefeated in season play, but falling to the Parkland Raiders in the league championships on Nov. 16.
“We just weren’t able to seal the deal,” said head coach and Hawks Athletic Director Shaun Miller.
Four other Hawks teams also made it to the league playoffs including 8U, 9U, 11U and 12U. The 8U team also competed in the championship finals, and both 9U and 11U made it to the second round of playoffs.
Last year, the 9U team (this year’s 10U) had only 12 players, Miller told the Mirror. This year, those numbers nearly doubled as 23 players on the 10U team proved to be a strong force in the Greater Puget Sound Youth Football league.
The world youth championships are comparable to the Little League World Series of youth football, according to the website. The Pro Football Hall of Fame championships will be held Dec. 6-15 in Canton, Ohio.
The regional qualifying rounds begin Nov. 21, with Federal Way Hawks 10U competing for a top spot in the Northwest region. Two games stand between the 10U Bantams and Ohio, the first against the Bethel Braves at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22 and the second at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24 versus the Bonney Lake Raptors. Both games will be held at Mariners High School Stadium (200 120th St. SW) in Everett.
The team with the best record after the weekend’s games will move on to nationals in Ohio the following week.
This is the first time in Federal Way Hawks history that the team has been invited to the Pro Football Hall of Fame competition.
“It’s huge, especially with everything going on with Federal Way at the moment,” said longtime organization volunteer Eileen Wilson, of the invitation. “Being able to represent our city on a national level and putting the Federal Way name out there for our youth program is amazing.”
The Federal Way Hawks success comes at a time where youth sports need a positive light, Wilson said, referencing the controversial brawl between Orting and another Federal Way youth football organization Federal Way Titans, on Nov. 2. A video widely circulated on social media of the Orting Junior Cardinals and Federal Way Titans game showed parents attacking and chasing game referees.
“There’s a big confusion between the two [organizations],” she said, adding that the Hawks have received some angry and mean messages via social media since the incident. “People aren’t being very nice.”
Miller said incidents like the fight are a “black eye” for youth sports.
“In youth sport, tensions get high and our relationships with our parents mitigate any issues like that,” Miller said. “We’ve never had issues with refs or coaches or parents being physically accosted …”
The Hawks have been around since the 1970s, impacting the lives of thousands of kids in Federal Way over the years.
“From where we started to where we’ve come, we’ve made great strides,” Miller said, adding that the “family-oriented” culture of the Hawks, including weekly potlucks and game play film reviews at parents’ houses, is what builds a bond with both kids and their families.
The Federal Way Hawks have set up a GoFundMe account with the fundraising goal of $25,000 to take the team of 23 athletes to Ohio.
“They’ve worked so hard this season with their undefeated season,” Wilson said. “They all deserve to go.”
An angel on the sidelines
Liny Dannis Frost, a dedicated mother of a Hawks player and wife of assistant coach Lavell Frost, died from cancer earlier this month, Federal Way Hawks officials confirmed.
“She was always on the sidelines up until a week before she passed,” Wilson said. “You could always see her on the sidelines cheering her son on.”
The team dedicated their final home game to Liny Dannis Frost, which also happened to be the last game she attended. At the game, her son made a touchdown and the team, after all of the players signed it, presented the game ball to Liny.
After she passed, the Hawks held a tribute for Liny on Nov. 9, taking a moment of silence after placing her sideline chair, inscribed with her name, on the 50-yard line.
Each member of the Hawks 10U team held a white rose during the honoring ceremony, then gave the roses to Liny’s sister and her daughter.
“I don’t know if you guys know how much she cared about you guys and how much she loved you,” Frost shared at the Federal Way Hawks banquet on Nov. 16.
As Liny Frost’s battle with cancer weathered hard on her, she was left with the use of only one arm and little-to-no energy, Lavell Frost told the crowd at the banquet. On the morning of the game, Lamar Frost peeked into her room to find Liny awake and dressed for the game — determined to see her son play.
“I was amazed at her strength and resilience to come out and cheer you guys on,” Frost said. “I just want you guys to know my wife, she loved you guys dearly, like her sons. She would’ve done anything to stay here to see us finish the season.”
To make a donation and help send the Federal Way Hawks 10U team to the Pro Football Hall of Fame World Youth Championships, visit the team’s GoFundMe page.