Dedication To Community (D2C), in partnership with ENew Films today announced the official launch plan for “I Got Your Back”, a critically important 14-minute short film that tells the story of how, Yonkers Police and Fire personnel, as volunteers and with the assistance of Gorton High School football Coach Dan DeMatteo and others, found a way to keep high school football alive in a cash strapped school system and impacted the lives of hundreds of young men, their families and the entire Yonkers community through teaching life skills, teamwork and dedication to cause.
The film, directed by Eric Newman, chronicles the stories of the Yonkers Force, its players, coaches and families beginning in 2018 (the program’s current season has been postponed until April due to restrictions on high school sports because of COV-19).
The free debut of the full film will take place in mid November, details on the online launch will be coming in the next week.
“At a time when people are questioning the ways law enforcement can positively impact communities, we give you The Yonkers Force,” Dedication To Community (D2C) founder and Yonkers native M. Quentin Williams said. “The work these men and women put in, on their own time, to help give these young people direction and purpose is inspiring, and shows what can be done with listening, purpose and conviction.”
“This is a special time in history – for our students, school system, this beautiful city and our great nation. It is an honor for us to present the Force and Brave to the world as a representation of Yonkers’ evolution and as an inspiration for what our nation can be,” said Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Superintendent, Yonkers Public Schools.
“There is no doubt that many of these young people would be in dire trouble if the Yonkers Force did not come to be,” DeMatteo said. “We witnessed how these amazing public servants impacted the lives of our kids and kept them off the streets and out of harm’s way. Everyone here wins regardless of the results on the field, and we hope this serves as an example of what many communities that are struggling today can do.”
“This was a tremendous opportunity to spotlight a creative solution to bridge law enforcement and community through team sports,” Newman added. “The passion, belief and excitement around this was tangible from the moment we rolled camera. My hope is that communities and leaders across the country take notice and are inspired by what this is beginning to accomplish in Yonkers and it leads to action nationwide.”
The Yonkers high school football glory days have seemingly passed, and football has been struggling. After extreme budget cuts and concerns over safety, eight Yonkers high school football teams that were formerly rivals have been merged into two programs. With the police and fire department working as mentors, the newly formed teams are aptly named the Force and the Brave. In the midst of these uneasy alliances, a coach and his staff work hard to build bridges and save high school football in Yonkers, while law enforcement and teenagers take the necessary steps forward towards trust and respect. These alliances and a new rivalry have now set the scene for a rebirth in Yonkers that culminates with a newly shared tradition, under the Friday Night Lights.
The initial 14-minute short film highlights this crucial merger whose big picture goal is to be an example of a creative solution to solve both a local community and national problem that continues to cost lives. Weaved into the narrative is both the past and present DNA of the Yonkers community, what this merger does for the city off the field, the negative effects felt when public schools eliminate sports programs due to state budget cuts and the nationwide issue of police/community tension.
An expanded feature length film is currently being planned as well.
Williams is a Yonkers, New York raised, Boston College (where he played football) and St. John’s University Law School grad, and a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor who has also held senior community and business positions with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the NBA, and the NFL, and has brought all of those skills and relationships together to grow D2C in the past years. D2C’s presence has never been more important than it is today.
“I Got Your Back (The Story of the Yonkers Force)” is an example of D2C’s impactful work, which includes ongoing training to help bridge divides and improve relationships between police officers and communities nationally. To date, Williams has worked with law enforcement agencies in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Missouri, the Carolinas and the FBI National Academy in Virginia, where he is an instructor.
In September, D2C expanded its reach to involve professional athletes, adding former NFL executive Lamonte Winston (director, player engagement and development, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Donnie Shell (Pittsburgh Steelers). Williams also announced in September a historic partnership with the Miami HEAT and City of Miami Police Department.