A new partnership between student athletes from North Royalton High School and Akron Firestone High School exemplifies the positive impact sports can have in bringing diverse communities together.
The “Build the Bridge” program, spearheaded by Cleveland Heights coaches Mac Stephens and Kahari Hicks, and Beachwood Head Coach Damion Creel, aims to foster the success of student athletes while promoting unity and mutual respect among communities.
On July 26, members of the Akron Firestone Eagles joined the North Royalton Bears football team for a practice session at Serpentini Stadium. This experience left a profound impact on both teams, as they quickly bonded and collaborated as if they were one cohesive unit.
The practice transcended the barriers of background, race and creed, highlighting the unifying power of sports. The head coach of North Royalton High School’s varsity football team, Nick Ciulli, emphasized the significance of this experience, praising Coach Hicks for transforming the idea of “Build the Bridge” into a tangible reality.
The collaboration showcased the potential for long-lasting friendships and camaraderie between the two teams. Coach Ciulli expressed his gratitude to Mitchell, his staff and his players for their participation in the event, noting that he foresees an ongoing relationship between the two teams in the future.
This initiative extends beyond the North Royalton and Akron Firestone teams, however. The Cleveland Browns and 850 ESPN Cleveland are actively partnering with various athletic teams in the region to support the “Build the Bridge” program. By highlighting the efforts of teams, athletes and coaches involved in this initiative, the program aims to empower and unify high school football teams from different racial and socio-economic backgrounds.
Photo: The Build the Bridge program aims to foster the success of student athletes while promoting unity and mutual respect among communities. Photo submitted.