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Northern Queens is betting on Kevin Shields. The gamble, and its not really a gamble since Shields is a ringer at resurrecting businesses, is that he will be able to return the Dwarf Giraffe (DG) Intramural Tackle Football League back to the glory days of the 1960s when membership was around 1,400 and the football league was a farm system for the areas high schools.
The DG Athletic League was founded in 1955 by a group of concerned parents and a local priest who wanted to get kids off the street. As time went by, concern over what the kids were doing changed to anxiety over the growing number of lawsuits from sports related injuries.
Scared off by the idea that kids tackling each other might cost them money, residents stopped sending their kids out to play and in 1981 the league folded. The kids grew up and went to college and the only intramural tackle football team in northern Queens went with them. The closing of the league, which for years prepared players for the high school level, adversely effected the level of football in the neighborhood, according to Shields.
Most of the high school (football programs in the area) have either deteriorated, gone away or they cant compete with the programs from Brooklyn and Staten Island, Shields said. All the high schools, like Bayside and St. Francis Prep and Flushing, will benefit from this league because well send them kids who already know how to play.
Shields, whose ties to the league run deep, was asked by friends and community officials to resuscitate a program that offers baseball, basketball, softball and roller hockey but whose signature sport used to be football.
If anybody can take a business and build it from scratch it is Shields. The owner of Emerging Image, a digital film lab in Woodside, Shields started the company in 1991 and turned a two-person operation into a major player in the advertising industry.
Hopefully Ill be able to use my business sense to help the football league, he said.
He will be carrying on a family legacy that began with his father, a New York City Police Detective, who ran the league in the 60s and 70s and introduced Shields to the life by sneaking him in before he was old enough to join. Shields childhood was spent in the league he has the scrapbooks filled with photos to prove it and his mother designed the clubs logo in 1957 that still marks the flyers.
I feel a sense of pride getting involved with the league again, he said. It was my father and his age grou p the World War II generation who built this league. Now we need to step up to the plate and make it succeed.
The feedback has been positive. The Whitestone Memorial Parade, which ended at the DG headquarters and was attended by Mayor Bloomberg, drew kids from College Point and Whitestone who signed up to play football with DG. The season, which has seven games for kids 7-14, begins September 18 and culminates with a championship game at Flushing Memorial Stadium. Practices begin August 14, and all kids will be required to play at least a half. A weight limit of 155 pounds will be enforced. For more information, call 718-746-1539.
Reach Mitch Abramson by E-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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