Boca youth teams battle over fields

BOCA RATON, Fla. - The green grass.

The white lines.

The perfect goalposts.

Michael Mendez, 13, loves Patch Reef.

"We have everything we need," Mendez said.

The city awarded Mendez' second-year Pop Warner team the right to practice at Patch Reef, based on this: they reported 119 city residents to the The Boca Jets' 71.

After decades, the Jets were relegated to the green, but unglamorous, Woodlands Park.

"It doesn't have everything that a football player needs," said Jets player David Knight, 10.

Boca Jets parents, players and coaches say the drainage isn't as good at Woodlands as it is at Patch Reef.

They also point to the goalposts, which they say are not fit for a great football program.

"I just don't think it's fair," said Knight.

On Tuesday night, the teams battled at a special hearing at City Hall.

The Jets accused Pop Warner of deliberately overstating their number of city residents.

"I think the national headquarters would be disappointed with the tactics of (the Pop Warner) local program," said Boca Jets president Tolliver Miller.

The Jets demanded a second look after a later count showed they had more city kids.

Pop Warner denied that, laid its rosters out, and accused the Jets of similar fudging.

"The organization today is not representative of this city," said Peter McCallister of the Pop Warner team.

Ultimately,  council turned down the Jets protest and kept field assignments as is.

The mayor, Susan Whelchel, was appropriately wearing white and black stripes.

"Discussion that each team is not doing what it should, I think that is very damaging to young children," said Whelchel.

Knight says their second tier field doesn't mean they are.

"We will definitely have our coaches at their best and we will be at our best," said Knight.

Next year the city of Boca will hold a meeting with both leagues to come up with a new way to assign fields.


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