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Parent's COVID Death Sparks Sacramento Youth Football Program To Cancel Practices For Testing Event

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A COVID-19 tragedy hit a Sacramento youth football program.

A parent of a player on the Grant Junior Pacers died from the virus this week, sparking a massive effort to get families tested and vaccinated. But many parents, and even coaches, are still hesitant to get the shot.

The president of the Grant Junior Pacers, Mervin Brookins, canceled all practices, and on Thursday night, told players and families to come to a familiar place: Norwood Junior High School where volunteer doctors provided the testing and shots.

"We're trying to get the word out, get people to understand that it's very, very important with this new variant," he said. "Kids are much more in jeopardy than they were prior to."

Mervin Brookins said when the parent of one of his players passed away from COVID-19, he immediately rallied his players to get tested and hopefully convince those eligible to get vaccinated.

"A lot of the siblings and family members of members in our program who heard about it went out and got vaccinated and tested today, so it's already having that impact," he said Thursday.

Most who came out just wanted tests, the hesitancy over the vaccine was significant. Deanthony Ferguson is the head coach of the 13U team and said he has no plans to get the shot.

"I don't really think it does anything," he said. "If we can just do standard testing, I think we should be able to be fine without it."

Anisa Gains and her 13-year-old son are vaccinated but still came to get tested just in case.

"It's a big concern because you still want your child to play sports," she said. "But in the back of your mind, you're always worried about being so close to another child. Are they social distancing at practice?"

Coach Brookins hopes to set an example ahead of football season this fall.

"I would challenge every organization out there to do the same thing. Set aside a day and make it mandatory for everyone to get tested," Brookins said.

Coach Brookins said practices are postponed indefinitely right now until more testing is done, and they'll go from there.

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