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The Chicago Southside Wolfpack youth football team got a surprise visitor to their practice that they’ll never forget –
former president Barack Obama.
“I told you I was coming by, coach! You didn’t believe me!” the former president and sports fan said, laughing.
The team, composed of boys aged eight to sixteen, plays in Jackson Park on the South Side of Chicago. Part of the park where their field is located will soon become a part of the site where the Obama Presidential Center will be. Obama spoke to the players, cheerleaders and coaches to reassure them that they will always have a place to play. “To come here and stand in front of our kids and talk to them, he gave them hope,” Coach Ernest Radcliffe said. The Obama Foundation worked directly with the coaches to get them a new home close by. Obama spent time hanging out joking with the players, even meeting one who shared his first name.
“That was one of the biggest things that we said … we said we needed this because we call this our sanctuary, and we have to have this field,” Radcliffe said about his work with the former president and planners.
Former president Obama followed up this visit by dropping in on small businesses in the South Shore area, a stones’ throw from where he married former First Lady Michelle Obama. He listened in on a meeting with Obama Foundation advisers and a group of business owners at a cafe. “We want to make sure that the Obama Presidential Center does not operate in a silo and at the center supports local businesses in the community and the community at large,” said Tonya Rice, executive director, South Shore Chamber of Commerce.
At last word, groundbreaking on the site could take place in August with some preliminary work beforehand.