Warren Jets players celebrate as they cruise to a 27-0 win over the St. Clair Shores Green Hornets on Sept. 24 at Warren Lincoln High School.

Warren Jets players celebrate as they cruise to a 27-0 win over the St. Clair Shores Green Hornets on Sept. 24 at Warren Lincoln High School.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Warren Jets bring leadership to young lives

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Warren Weekly | Published September 30, 2022

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WARREN — Youth programs are meant to stand and provide for more than the sport they’re offering. They can provide values, leadership, and confidence, and the Warren Jets have perfected all three.

Since its formation in 1953, the Warren Jets have brought football and cheer to the Warren community and its surrounding area including Sterling Heights, Eastpointe, and Hazel Park.

While their brand is based on taking players and cheer members to the next level each year, Warren Jets President Ebony Fitzgerald said it’s much more than the game itself.

“It’s more than football. It’s more about family,” Fitzgerald said.

The Warren Jets provide flag, freshmen, junior varsity, and senior football while offering cheer at all four levels as well. The program currently carries over 150 children in both football and cheer. Warren Jets home games are played at Lincoln High School.

While competing in the Eastern Suburban Football League with teams such as the Grosse Pointe Red Barons and Eastside Eagles, the football program will travel to compete in out-of-state tournaments. Past tournaments have taken place in Florida and Tennessee with the program chartering a bus to Tennessee last season.

The national competition has paid off for the Warren Jets as both the junior varsity and varsity teams sit in first place in the ESFL with a 4-0 record. The varsity team has outscored opponents 130-0 in four games this season.

While being dominant on the field, Warren Jets varsity coach Toney Turner presses his players to be efficient off the field.

“It’s a program where these kids learn and the kids grow in the program. That’s really what I focus on,” Turner said. “We focus on football, but we really focus on the real world for jobs. Everything’s not about football.”

Turner, whose son plays on the junior varsity Warren Jets, focuses on establishing leadership skills with his players on and off the field.

Fitzgerald said the Warren Jets program as a whole has stressed the importance of representing the community and the program the right way.

“Just being able to keep the kids out of trouble and keep them active,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s about building them as future leaders.”

Most importantly, it’s about family. Whether it’s local high schools in the community coming out to speak with the players or teams themselves becoming a tightknit group, the family aspect never leaves the program.

Fitzgerald and the coaches hold team-bonding nights, and even make it a road trip when they play against the Port Huron team.

“We’ll get in an Airbnb and have video game tournaments and get in the swimming pool,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s not all about being on the football field playing.”

By the time the future leaders leave the program to continue their football and cheer career, they’re prepared for high school.

“After they leave us, they start on varsity,” Toney said. “That’s our goal.”