By Arrianee LeBeau
The Berkley Timberwolves is a nonprofit youth sports program in the Berkley neighborhood, helping keep kids off the street and out of trouble.
It was created by coach Glen Yearling about 25 years ago as a safe place for kids in the area.
“It’s a safe haven for these kids and it's getting these kids in school to the next level doing things they didn’t think they could ever do,” Yearling said.
The Berkley community is commonly associated with gangs, gun violence, and other crimes. Yearling said during the time the kids participate in his program the parents don’t have to worry.
“You never know when they walk out the door when a shooting is going to take place, robberies anything. I’m trying to shield them from that as giving them something to do,” said Yearling.
The volunteer-based program coaches kids in sports like football, basketball, and cheerleading. But Yearling said the program is mostly about teaching the kids how to do well in life.
“The most important thing to me is making sure they are great people and coming out of the program being good people. I have several of the youth that came through my program that are in college, playing college football and I got some in the military,” said Yearling.
Yearling spends his afternoons before the Timberwolves’ evening practice at the Berkley Park picking kids up for practice in his van. Riding through the community waving and greeting kids on the street.
“I ride around and I see them and they are just out here. I want them (parents) to understand that this program can help their children make it to the next level,” said Yearling.
The program has no sponsors and relies heavily on fundraising. Oftentimes Yearling spends his own money to make sure the kids in the program don’t go without. Even without extra help, Yearling refuses to stop the program or let the kids down.
“If I took on this task of being a coach out here in this community, I’m going to be here until God is ready for me,” he said.