Camp Kilpatrick, the Malibu-based juvenile detention facility that inspired the 2006 movie “Gridiron Gang,” is suspending its one-of-a-kind high school sports program effective in January, said Jerry Powers, chief of the Los Angeles County Probation Department.
The camp that can house as many as 110 juvenile inmates is being relocated during a three-year construction project.
Football Coach Derek Ayers said his team will have one final season this fall competing in the CIF Southern Section. Soccer, basketball, track and baseball will be discontinued.
Kilpatrick was the only probation camp in the county that offered its minors the opportunity to compete in sanctioned high school sports.
Powers said he could not make a commitment that the sports program would return when Kilpatrick re-opens. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the Malibu area, said he was a “big believer” in the program and that there was support among the Board of Supervisors to resume the program in the future.
“There’s a feeling it has rehabilitative value,” he said.
Ayers, a probation officer and former UCLA receiver who has coached the football team for 10 years, said he was troubled that the program will disappear after this season.
“Our biggest concern is that this program does so much,” he said. “It changes lives through sports. It brings kids together and teaches so many things.”
Alfonso Cid, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound standout senior lineman at Los Angeles Garfield High, played at Kilpatrick in 2010 after being sent there for six months for bringing a knife to middle school.
“As a young teenager we all make mistakes,” Cid said. “When I went there, they gave me the opportunity to play football and change my direction. The coaches believed in me. I stayed out of trouble to play football. To me, it was keep my mouth shut, do whatever I had to do to play.”
The success of Kilpatrick’s football program was told in the 2006 movie that starred Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as former coach Sean Porter.
Powers said he couldn’t predict what the juvenile population might be in three years and that there would be an evaluation of “the mission of the facilities we operate.”
Kilpatrick handles juvenile offenders who are wards of the court. They stay for three, six or nine months. Supporters view the sports program as a second chance for troubled teenagers to learn about discipline, team work and sacrifice.
There have been rival gang members who played on the football team but became friends through sports competition.
“We’re trying to fight this because everybody at this facility believes so much in the program,” Ayers said.
He suggested the detainees be moved to another camp site owned by the county and be allowed to continue a sports program there.