A legendary high school sports program at a juvenile detention center that inspired a major 2006 movie is facing its final season of operation, after the Los Angeles County Probation Department decided to halt all sports at the facility.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Camp Kilpatrick, the nation's only juvenile detention center allowed to compete in sanctioned high school sports, will halt all athletic programs following the fall football season. There has been no word on whether sports might continue at the facility in the future, but they will almost certainly remain suspended for at least the following three years, when Camp Kilpatrick undergoes a major construction process that will relocate the entire detention center.
Camp Kilpatrick first gained fame when it inspired the 2006 movie "Gridiron Gang," which starred Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and showcased the rehabilitative power of the center's football program.
The Times spoke to a current top prospect who confirmed that the program was as big a lifeline at the center as it has been made out to be.
"As a young teenager we all make mistakes," Los Angeles (Calif.) Garfield senior lineman Alfonso Cid told the Times. "When I went there, they gave me the opportunity to play football and change my direction. The coaches believed in me. I stayed out of trouble to play football. To me, it was keep my mouth shut, do whatever I had to do to play."
That was always the goal for the program; helping troubled teens turn the page and work their way back into society and school sports as a whole.
While Jerry Powers, the chief of the Los Angeles County Probation Department, refused to commit to restarting the athletic programs when Camp Kilpatrick reopens at its new site, but Kilpatrick football coach Derek Ayers, a former UCLA star, said he and others would continue to fight for its return.
"Our biggest concern is that this program does so much," Ayers told the Times. "It changes lives through sports. It brings kids together and teaches so many things.
"We're trying to fight this because everybody at this facility believes so much in the program."