Father’s Day

by Ali Waxman

 

It’s almost Father’s Day, which means people from around the world are celebrating their fathers and the men in their lives. In Harrisburg, at the 7th and Radnor park, JT Dorsey, a father of one daughter, and his foundation provide soccer training to boys and girls in the mostly African-American and Latino community.JT Dorsey 2-3

According to Dorsey, most of these children either have a seldom-involved or a non-existent father. “If you come to practice or games, you will see the stands are filled with mostly mothers, sisters and brothers or friends,” he says. “We try to provide guidance to these kids when needed, not to fill a void that is missing in their personal lives, but to act as a coach/mentor. …But the fatherly guidance comes out of me all the time because I see the kids need it.”

The ages range from the very young to young adults. Dorsey and his team of coaches have practices for the older kids on Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m., and the younger kids in the early evenings from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Games are held on Fridays at the same times for the different age groups.

Dorsey’s commitment to serve as a positive role model extends past the soccer pitch. He also is in charge of Phase 4 learning center, a satellite school classroom in Harrisburg that takes students from the Central Dauphin and Central Dauphin East school systems who have been expelled for one reason or another and gives them an opportunity to get themselves back on track.

“I can tell that most of the kids come from broken homes or are being raised by single mothers,” says Dorsey. “They have hardly any respect for the teachers, and their bad behavior is what gets them in trouble. I was raised to respect my mother and father, and if I didn’t, there were dire consequences. These kids don’t understand that, and that’s where I have to get hard with them. It’s something I don’t enjoy, but it’s necessary, and in the end, the kids need to learn how to respect their teachers, parents or anyone with authority. It serves them well in life if they learn it at this age.”

From the classroom to the soccer pitch to his own home, the role of father figure is not an easy one, but he’s embraced it. When asked, if it gets easier with more experience in that role, he says, “No, it doesn’t get easier.” He then pauses, chuckles and finally says, “Yes, it has gotten easier.”

A father’s love is wholehearted and unlimited. ¡Feliz Día del Padre!

Ali Waxman

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