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New program takes shape in Stockton community

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Weston Ranch Falcons junior midget assistant coach Javier DeLeon works his players through an agility drill during practice Thursday at George Komure School.


POSTED August 14, 2009 2:01 a.m.
WESTON RANCH — Tyra Vickers-Kearney isn’t using wins and losses as a gauge for success.

The president of the fledgling Weston Ranch Falcons youth football and cheer program, the third of its kind in the South Stockton community, is using athletics as a tool to groom the area’s youth into well-rounded individuals and future leaders.

“What we want to do is give back to our community,” said Vickers-Kearney, who began piecing the program together last October. “Within a year we’ve had can-food drives and had board members feed the homeless.
“What we have is a fun, football-oriented family, but we want to take the time to give back and teach our children how they can do that. We have a lot of children here in the Weston Ranch area and wanted to get them into something positive.”

The Weston Ranch Ravens was the first youth football program to take root in 2004 under the guidance of Mike Lopez, who now presides over the Lathrop Steelers. The Weston Ranch Eagles were founded a few years later, giving Manteca Unified’s Weston Ranch High School, which opened in 2003-04, another feeder program.

Vickers-Kearney’s children — 10-year-old Steven Johnson and 12-year-old Aakielah, a cheerleader — were previously involved with another organization in the area, and she said that there is definitely room for one more in Weston Ranch.

In Manteca, some teams are having trouble filling rosters with five organizations (Delta Rebels, Manteca Jr. Buffaloes, Manteca Cowboys, Manteca Jaguars, Manteca Chargers) spreading the town thin. There are two programs each in Lathrop (Titans, Steelers) and Ripon (Chiefs, Knights), where numbers are solid at every age level.

Vickers-Kearney said the Falcons have roughly 30 players at each level.

“I think that there are more than enough children in Weston Ranch,” Vickers-Kearney said. “If one of my teams is full, I would definitely push for the kids to go to the Eagles or the South Stockton Vikings.

“I just felt that the organization I was (previously) with wasn’t giving back to the children, and there were things I saw that I didn’t agree with.”

All three Weston Ranch programs call the high school home, though the Falcons practice at George Komure School. The Eagles, Ravens and Manteca Cowboys make up the Tri-Valley Conference of the National Youth Football League. The Falcons have joined the Lathrop Steelers in the Mountain Valley League of American Youth Football.

The Falcons will host their first-ever five-team jamboree at St. Mary’s High in Stockton Saturday starting at 9 a.m. The regular season kicks off on Aug. 29.

Vickers-Kearney ultimately wants the Falcons to have a year-round presence in the community, forming teams under the same name in other sports such as basketball, volleyball, softball and track and field.

“Things are going better than I actually expected them to go,” she said. “I thought that because we already have two well-established teams that we wouldn’t have any children, but we haven’t had any problems in getting started.”

For more information about the Weston Ranch Falcons, e-mail
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