The Dorchester Eagles football team was defeated Sunday in its first-round game at the national Pop Warner tournament in Disney World. The players and coaches boarded buses for their week-long adventure last Friday brimming with excitement – and the shut-out loss to a talent-packed team from Miami, FL (who happen to be the defending national champs) was hard to swallow.
But the team took consolation in their surroundings. What group of 12- and 13 year-old boys would not be cheered by a chance to enjoy Orlando’s many attractions? The Eagles were invited to play in a consolation game mid-week and were planning to depart on Friday.
By Tuesday, however, it looked as if that plan would be upended, as Disney officials demanded immediate payment from the Dorchester coaches for their hotel expenses. (The team is required to stay at Disney properties for the duration of the tournament as a condition of playing.)
The team had raised a tidy sum to help defray the costs before boarding the buses last week. But, they were still short several thousand dollars. And unless the bill was paid, the Dorchester team would be asked to leave immediately.
Calls were placed back home and when Mayor-elect Marty Walsh was alerted to the situation, he stepped right up. The week before, Walsh had put out the call for donors to help the Eagles pay for the trip. This time, he arranged for the outstanding balance of the Eagles bill to be covered within minutes by rounding up a few key donors to pitch in. With the bill now fully paid, the boys’ Disney trip went on uninterrupted.
Hopefully the kids will never know how close they came to getting on that bus on Tuesday night for a long and disappointing ride home. Their coaches and parents know the real story, though: Mayor-elect Walsh came through in the clutch.