CLEVELAND — On Monday morning, the Glenville Tarblooders were greeted with music, cheers, and even some dancing when they entered the gymnasium at Ginn Academy in Cleveland, the enthusiasm from the weekend's state championship win still carrying over to students and staff present at the school's morning meeting.
The team defeated Wyoming to become champions in the Division IV state football final, becoming the first team from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to do so in the playoff era.
"We just wanted to make sure that people knew that the kids in Cleveland could achieve greatness at the highest level," said legendary head coach Ted Ginn Sr., who has led the program since 1997.
This win has been decades in the making for Ginn, who founded the academy that bears his name in 2007. Since taking the position as head coach in 1997, the Tarblooders have made frequent playoff appearances, even making it to the state championship in 2009 (Division I) and 2013 (D-II). However, both times, the title eluded them.
But on this morning, Ginn as well as other members of the coaching and school staffs spoke to the students and community members present, thanking them for their work through the season. The team was also presented with their medals.
For Ginn, the win is meaningful not just to the football program, but to the Cleveland community as a whole.
"People never ever felt that we could do it, because of being in the inner city," he noted. "But we can learn, we can teach, we can play, we can be high academics, we can do it all, you know what I'm saying? And we can be state champions."
For senior linebacker and Ginn Academy student Braylon West, the win was the result of all the hard work the team has put in.
"Just hearing all the people doubt us and say that we're just immature, not disciplined — but we proved them wrong," he said. "We won it, we did it, and we got it. It feels good to prove them wrong.
"I tried not to cry; the tears just fell out because it just feels so great. Finally did it."
Junior defensive end Rameer Askew is also confident the Tarblooders will be back next year to defend their title, adding that this win, and team, mean a lot both on and off the field.
"Off the field, the coaches take a lot of time out with us, not only just about football, but just to take time and get a feel of where we're coming from, what we've got going on at home," he said. "It builds us up so much, builds our confidence up so much. It means a lot having them on and off the field. It's like a real family — more than just football, more than the athlete."