MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — One decision changed the lives of hundreds of athletes across Shelby County.
Last month, the county voted to cancel fall sports. But, for more than 30 football players, all hope wasn’t lost.
“He provided us with an opportunity to play football and I had to take it,” said Kaleb Almo.
Almo, a senior cornerback, was one of the athletes that spearheaded the protests against the county’s ruling.
That was his reaction to seeing a tryout flyer for PURE Youth Athletics Alliance. The private boarding school was going to start a football team.
“They’re hungry and that’s the best thing,” said PURE Executive Director Melvin Cole. “You find out what something really means to you when it’s taken away.”
Cole, a former athlete himself, founded PURE as a way to help students strive in the classroom and on the field.
“They had to be willing to leave their school, they had to be willing to adapt to the way PURE do things which is totally different, starting at 6 a.m. in the morning for workouts, to class, back to another workout,” said Cole. “So these kids paid the ultimate for it. Nothing was given to them besides an opportunity.”
One of his first students at PURE was 4-star quarterback Tevin Carter. Until PURE started its own football program, Carter played at Kirby.
“It’s actually pretty cool,” Carter said. “We always used to talk about us having a high school team because we did have a middle school. We thought our kids were going to grow up together and have this super team, but now that we got one, it’s a dream come true.”
And with so many talented athletes from across the county, you can bet there’s going to be some friendly rivalry.
“A little competition, like some White Station kids,” said Almo. “We would say ‘Kirby would have beat White Station, but it’s friendly competition. We’re like a brotherhood playing with some other, I say, dogs around the city.”
And, all of them are just grateful for another chance.
“We’re just going to show up and play and give the fans something to see, like if Shelby County would have played this is what would have happened.”