Evanston leaders ask what they can do to stop violence

Police say 16-year-old Terrence Womack was gunned down at the corner of Gilbert and Woodburn avenues Monday after leaving the Evanston Recreation Center.
               
Womack, who was better known to some as T.J., was a student at Dohn Community School. In 2008, he played football for the Evanston Bulldogs, a youth athletic program. 

"My son knew him," said Marye Ward, coach of the Evanston Bulldogs. "It was a big shock that T.J. is there one day, then T.J.'s not there."

Last week Ward said enough was enough. She led a meeting Saturday with Womack's former coaches and friends. The informal leaders of the community were left asking themselves what they can do to make sure no more young lives are lost.

"What we try to do is make an impression on a kid," Ward said. "I tell the guys all the time, ‘Remember, you might be the only adult that will talk to them, that will really talk to them. So while you're teaching them the game of football, throw in some of those things, the keys of life, about always doing the right thing.'"

Pastor Pete Mingo agrees with Ward. He says coaches can make everlasting impressions on young people, on and off the field.

"Our organization is full of kids that come from single-parent homes," Rev. Mingo said. "As you heard mentioned, especially on the lower levels, the coach becomes the father figure and will follow the kids all the way through."

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