Pee Wee team celebrates first awards banquet

For one day, they were the kids of steel. On December 15, the pee wee football team, the Kings County Steelers, held its first annual awards banquet at the Dyker Beach Golf Course.

Members of the team gathered with family and coaches to celebrate their 9-1-1 Parkville championship season as well as individual awards and the inauguration of Play NYC, an organization created by Steelers head coach Flash Russo to help children who want to play in a competitive football league, but may not be able to afford it.

“I would see kids crying outside the field because they couldn’t afford to play,” recalled Russo. “I think it’s a little ridiculous that kids have to pay $300 to play football. I played football my entire life and never once paid to play.”

Through sponsorship and donations, Russo’s goal is to have kids enjoy organized football without worrying about bills. “You don’t want a kid who is only five years old to think that you could only have fun or do what you want if you have money. You don’t want to instill that in them,” he continued. With the help of Nike and Russell Athletics, kids will also be able to purchase discounted equipment.

Assistant coach Sal Miciotta was happy to see his team eager to spend time together. “They all have a bond,” he said. “These kids couldn’t wait to see each other. It’s been like three weeks and they act like it’s been three months.”

Each player received a championship ring. A series of individual awards were also given out, including MostValuable Player, which went to Sal Misotta. The trophy was filled with Kit Kat candy bars and was so heavy that Misotta struggled just to lift it.

“I want to thank my teammates, coaches, we had a great year. It was fun. I can’t wait to do it again. Go Steelers,” shouted the proud MVP.

The team also announced a couple of big changes. After years of being part of the Parkville Youth Organization, Russo and company announced they’ll be moving to the New York City Football League next season. “It’s not just a Brooklyn thing or a Steelers thing. Our hope is that there is one Play NYC team playing in every borough,” said Russo.

“We’re moving in a different direction. (Parkville) has a different focus. We want to expand,” added Miciotta.

Russo expects to travel to Yonkers, the Bronx and Queens as well as Brooklyn while being a part of the new league, with transportation being provided for both the kids and their families.

“We want to do a lot next year,” he said. “This year we were limited. Next year we’re going to go out pizza after every game, barbecues if we want. I expect to create a family atmosphere.”

After the award ceremony, several teammates participated in a talent show, which featured singing, dancing and instrument playing. In the end, Jojo Nardiello took home the award for his two guitar performances, one electric and acoustic.

Jojo’s father Joseph was proud of his son, who just a short time ago never played a game and was inspired by watching the New York Giants play on TV. “He loves playing now. He looked forward to it every week. He looked at X’s and O’s before bed,” said Nardiello, who won the Steel Nation Award for his work with encouraging the players. “He loves the Steelers so much, he insisted on wearing his jersey today even though it’s over his handsome shirt.”

Ice T was slated to make an appearance but cancelled due to a scheduling conflict. However, he did record a video congratulating the Steelers on a great season, which sparked an ovation from the kids.

Although the afternoon was a success, Miciotta announced that bigger things are coming.

“This will only get better every year. We need a commitment from the parents and from the kids to learn, have fun and get better as football players. We’re trying to go forward, do something positive for the community, for the kids. We’re off to a good start.”

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