Interview #1

CS: How are you doing my friend?

MI: I’m doing good, just being blessed!

CS: It’s always pleasure to have the opportunity to speak with you again, it seems like yesterday when we first met and started talking football.

MI: Yep it has been, and it’s always a pleasure and honor as well to talk to you about football and our organization and the community.

CS: Well, let’s get started we’ve got a lot to discuss in a short amount of time. I had the pleasure of meeting you some years back from an acquaintance of ours Roy Herman and Nick Russell from our days of hosting the Sports Preview talk show that aired on Bolingbrook access Television Channel 6.

MI: Yeah, I remember that it was a great opportunity for our organization and you guys, it was a great show. It was produced by Roy and another gentleman that had worked for the Village of Bolingbrook and was part of BCT (Bolingbrook Community Television) That show was great for launching your career with us and Roy’s and Nick’s career too?

CS: Yeah, I remember that, it was a special time for us, we were doing a lot and now look at what’s happened since then; but if I recall I was mostly intrigued with you about how you were running a non-for-profit football organization for the last 9 years here in (Plainfield), and that it was for young men like myself, who were either a high school graduate or a college graduate looking to keep playing football, am I right?

MI: (Laughing) Yes, you are right! Our organization has always and will be about the community, and for those young men that graduate from the local high schools, and their academics were not up to college and university standards. Our program gives them a chance to go to local Junior College (JJC) and get their grades up and play ball with us, as you know Joliet Jr. College no longer has its football program, that was cut back in 2010.

CS: Okay, I do remember you telling us on the show about the junior college program not existing anymore. Can you elaborate a little more about the organization and tell my readers who don’t know a little about the Joliet Buccaneers?

MI: I sure can! First off, the Joliet Buccaneers Organization is a State of Illinois Registered Non-for Profit, this marks our 13th year of operation. We are a home-grown community based organization that is about the communities forgotten product, which are the young men ages 18 to 25. This demographic of young men is what the community sees as the expendable.

CS: What do you mean by “Expendable”?

MI: Well, this is the demographic age where the community sees the most trouble from its young adults and to them it’s a problem. This is the age where you see 80% of your community’s young adults involved with gangs, drugs, crime, prison, and or dead.

CS: Man, Mike that’s a serious issue as we see what’s been going on lately in Chicago, and just recently here in Joliet where there were 3 young men arrested for murder and arson, and even more recently a shooting involved with a young man sitting in a parked car.

MI: (Sigh) Yeah, it’s a shame, it’s tragic, and if you go back to each of these cases. These young men involved fell into the age demographic, but most importantly things like this can be curbed by a little support from the community and its residents.

CS: So, Mike what do you mean by curbed by the community and its residents?

MI: Okay, well we all know everything always start at home, with mom and dad, then it also translates out to your teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, pastors, and so forth on. It starts with community getting behind our organization and helping move the needle of progress.
CS: I can tell you are very passionate about this football team and the community?

MI: Oh, I am, and I want the young men affiliated with our program to be passionate about where they are from. We got a little side tracked, so let me tell you more about our organization.

CS: Please do!

MI: Our organization is about the community and those young men that want to continue to play this game, we give them the opportunity to play football in a safe, constructive environment, where they can home in their skills and get better. Build social skills, by meeting new people, and building and fostering in new ties within the community that has supported them since they were young kids. It’s about giving back to the community, that gave so much to them. It’s about being a productive citizen, and not being a tax burden on the community. It’s about doing what’s right, and not what’s wrong.

CS: Man, that seems like much for a young man that is right out of high school or college?

MI: No, it’s not! We’re not asking of what their moms and Dads are not asking of them to do! It’s simple go to school, get a job, stay out of trouble, and do what’s right!

CS: That’s easier said than done.

MI: And your absolutely right when you say that, but if

these kids and I call them kids, can only get out of their own way and stop making excuses up about the little things that go wrong with them they’ll be alright!

CS: Man, a little words of wisdom?

MI: No, it’s the truth, and sometimes the truth hurts and then there are those that don’t want to hear it.

CS: Please continue about the Bucs.

MI: Oh, right, I totally got side tracked, I’m sorry!

CS: Oh, no your fine.

MI: Well, all the players involved with our organization must pay a yearly team fee, which is $250

CS: That’s not a lot of money, does that cover their equipment as well?

MI: No it doesn’t cover their equipment, and No, it’s not a lot of money, but for a young man that doesn’t have a job or has a part-time job where their basically only making so much and they have to pay for little things like car insurance, and keeping gas in their car or paying for college books. It’s a lot of money!

CS: Do you offer like a payment plan or something to help them pay?

MI: Yeah, we do, we have a payment plan, and we offer them the opportunity to go out and solicit for sponsorship for the organization, which in fact that all or part of that money would go toward their team fee for the year.

CS: Do guys take advantage of that?

MI: I want to say yes and no to that question. Yes, they can go out and find local businesses willing to sponsor them for the season, NO, they don’t do it! So, what happens is that individual player must make a payment plan with the team, and that player finds himself behind from the start and then along the way, he has problems like; I just paid to keep my phone on, or I lost my job and I had to pay my car note and or insurance, or my hours got cut and I’m only working less than what I was working can I give $5.00 and I’ll give more next week?

CS: Mike, seriously? Come on man, are you kidding me?
MI: No, I’m not! I try to help those guys out by reaching into my own pocket or trying to get more sponsors if I can, it’s an up-hill battle, but 9 out 10 times the money comes out of my pocket.

CS: So, you reach into your own pocket to help fund the team?

MI: Yeah, for the last couple of years I have helped with funding the team by getting a small loan and my family as contributed as well.

MI: There are a few players and coaches that understand what I do and what goes into making this year after year after year. They are the ones that are loyal to the organization and wants to see this thing take off.

CS: So seriously, how much does it cost to run the organization for a year?

MI: It depends, if you do the math, if you have 40 players on your team that roughly comes to about $10,000. That should be enough to run a team for 1 year

CS: Okay, I know there are bills associated with running the organization, if you don’t mind me asking what are they?

MI: Sure, I don’t mind you asking and I telling. League cost about $1100, Liability Insurance $1000, Facility fee (Home Games) about $2500 for the year and that’s for 5 games. Each Home team must supply the officials for each Home Game that is roughly about $2500, uniform upkeep $1000, Equipment $200, website/hosting $200, post office box/paper $200 and from time to time miscellaneous things

CS: That’s interesting, I didn’t know all that comes with running an organization, but it still seems to me that’s manageable?

MI: It is, but it isn’t! If you don’t have 40 players paying team fee ($250 per player) and if they all pay their team fees on time and when they’re supposed to pay. It’s shouldn’t be a problem, but when you have 1% of your 40 man roster paying their fees on time, you run into the problem of how and where is the money coming from to pay for certain things. Then you get characterized by those, that don’t know you as your cheating the players and that is very disheartening and frustrating, because players don’t tend to ask questions, they tend to listen to others instead of asking questions.

CS: Man, that’s not cool what’s so ever that people would think that your cheating them, and not come up to you and ask. That makes no sense why is that?

MI: (Laughing) Yes it does bother me, and to be perfectly honest I try to move on from it each time that it arises. I spend more of my own helping players to play this game, than anyone would know. I go out of my way to help those that need a hand, like giving a player a ride to and from practice. Players don’t realize that gas cost money, so if I go out of my way to come get you I’m wasting my own gas money to do so. They don’t see that, they see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. They allow negative individuals to persuade their thoughts, and that right there is a problem. It’s sad that players can’t think for themselves, they need others to think for them.

CS: I’m just going to ask; then why do you do it? Why deal with the headache, stress, and the drama?

MI: I get that question a lot from people all the time, and they all say the same thing to me, why deal with the stress and drama, these players don’t care about you and what you do for them. My answer to that is simply I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it wasn’t for people that I didn’t know putting their hand out to help me. I too was like these young men when I was younger, and if it wasn’t for football and my family and God. I wouldn’t be where I am at today.

CS: Man, that is deep!

MI: It’s not deep it’s the truth almost 20 years ago, I was just like these kids now, but it was a different time back then, then it is today! I’m not saying I was a saint or anything but I’m not afraid to say that I crossed the law, and I needed help. I’m not a scared to admit that either and I’m not afraid to ask for help when help is needed, and if it wasn’t for the likes of certain people like my old head coach and general manager and most importantly my wife! I wouldn’t be here today. People tend to forget the old saying, “That it takes a village to raise a child”. I believe in those words, because it does take everyone to support that young man or young woman, and even though I thought I knew it all at a young age of 21 and I didn’t know a thing. I was young and dumb and full of myself, and didn’t have a clue which way was up and or down. I found out along the way that there are people outside of your family that do care about you and your well-being and want to see you inspire to be great. That’s the reason I do what I do because it was taught to me at young age that you do unto others as you want them to do unto you. This world, this day and age doesn’t have that work ethic no more!