Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

April 8, 2014

Bluefield's James pursuing his gridiron dream

BLUEFIELD — Jeff James is living a dream. The 2012 Bluefield High School graduate is a member of the Jackson Silverhawks of the Premier Amateur Football League.

Based in Canton, Ohio, the Silverhawks have provided James a chance to continue playing a sport which he loves, having played at Bluefield High and one year at Glenville State College. James explained how he became a member of the team.

“I played at Glenville State at 2012 and transferred to Ferrum College. I had to sit out a year due to transfer rules, so I went to Bluefield State and played flag football. I didn’t want to give up the sport,” James said. “I went on all kinds of websites and looked at teams from Memphis to Canton. The Jackson Silverhawks asked me if I would come and try out. I tried out and I signed a one-year deal.”

James cherishes the camaraderie of the players and said they come from across the country to play on the team based in Northeastern Ohio.

“We have a lot of good guys on the team. The oldest is 36 and I’m one of the younger guys on the team, I’m 20,” James said. “A lot of them are ex-college players or really good high school players that didn’t have the grades to make college ball. Our quarterback, he comes from Los Angeles. He just lives in Canton during the season.”

For James it is a long commute. He usually goes up for practice on Wednesday and games are scheduled for Saturdays. The former Beaver compared this experience to high school and college ball.

“The main thing I enjoy about it is at 20 years old I play football. High school was great and I loved being at Bluefield, but once you get to college it’s a job to play football, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” James said. “Doing this, I can work. I still work 30 hours a week. I’m expecting a little girl in August with my high school sweetheart. She can come watch me play.

“The main thing I love is I play with a group of guys who I could probably drop a thousand dollars on the floor and come back and it would still be there. They are really honest guys.”

James also likes playing in the area where professional football has its roots.

“The first time I went up there, me and my grandparents went to the football Hall of Fame right there in Canton and we really loved it,” James said. “We (Jackson Silverhawks) really have community support. It’s not much different from Bluefield High School where we set up chairs for the Second Chance concert and that’s the same way with the Jackson Silverhawks. I’ve got a feeling here I haven’t had in a long time as far as playing football. I enjoy being with my teammates. I could ask any of those guys for something and they would do it for me.”

There is also more to life than football for James.

“Last year I lost a couple of good friends, Joey Stone and Coko Hopkins,” James lamented. “You’ve got to play every day like it’s your last. My life is dedicated to them. I’m living a dream a lot of people don’t get a chance to have.”

While he played primarily on defense, at linebacker while he was in high school, James is now playing on the offensive side of the ball for the Silverhawks, taking snaps at wide receiver and tight end. He talked of the future.

“If this works out this year, my dream is to go to Canada and try to get on with the CFL,” James said. “I want to give back to the community. I want to get a program started that will help women and children going through domestic issues, a safe haven for them. Also I would like to give a lot to the (Bluefield) Union Mission.”

James and the Silverhawks play their first exhibition game on April 25 and regular season play begins May 31. The eight-game season wraps up at the end of July.

— Contact Bob Redd at bredd@bdtonline.com

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