Lorenzo Compton, as I learned from this touching profile by Eric Eckholm in the New York Times, holds the keys to Gambrel Field, an oasis of AstroTurf in the hardscrabble Frankford section of northeast Philadelphia. The field is home to a football league made up of “400 local boys ages 5 to 14, mainly low-income black and Hispanic children from single-parent households, including many from the rough public housing project next door.” And Compton, a high school dropout who served time for dealing drugs, has refashioned himself as a no-nonsense mentor the kids call “the field general.”
Twenty-one-year-old Matthew Herbert, a former player who now volunteers as a coach, calls the field “our little sanctuary” and refers to Compton as “Frankford’s uncle” because, Eckholm writes, “he has taken so many young men under his wing”:
Mr. Compton, Mr. Herbert said, helped him stay out of trouble when he was younger. Once when Mr. Compton caught him cutting school, he said, “he grabbed me, gave me a little body shot to the ribs, talked to me and took me to school.”
“I never cut school again. I was too scared,” said Mr. Herbert, who now works as a bus driver.
Hats off to you, Compton. Keep up the good work.